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Why Capitalism Works and Socialism Doesn't

Updated on May 23, 2016
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Why Capitalism is Good

Capitalism and socialism: the two structures that have divided the world on the future of society. Melodramatic? Maybe. But even though this title sounds like an intro to a lackluster History Channel special, I believe it's accurate.

These systems present two very different futures for our world, and both have strong supporters and opponents. I'm solidly a capitalist, and in this hub I will explain to the best of my ability why.


Definitions

To save time and prevent later confusion, I'm going to first make clear what I mean by "capitalism" and "socialism". I've noticed a lot of label wars, and I will do my best to avoid those. Capitalists cover quite a chunk of the right and center spectrum, including everybody from moderates to libertarians to every-man-for-themselves money grubbers. Same for socialists; there is definitely a fair amount of contrast between the far left and the center.

What I mean by capitalism is a free market (governed by supply and demand) and private property, including the ownership of the means of production. What I mean by socialism is public ownership on varying levels, but always the means of production. When you go towards the extremes, there are of course far more differences, but my views deal with the more viable and debatable center. So before we go further, allow to me to write a quick summary of why neither extreme works.

Neither extreme works.
Neither extreme works. | Source

Why Both Extremes Fail

Like I said before, my views are comfortably in the center, the reason being that going too far to either side will simply not work. Let's start with capitalism.

Capitalism

Capitalism, in its right-most form, is every man for himself. A capitalist society is set up so that those who work hardest and smartest (not counting get luckiest in this explanation) get more resources - which makes good sense, as until there are enough resources to accommodate everyone, there will always be conflicts of interest. The only way to get more resources, after a certain extent, is to create it, which can only be done through improving technology, like agriculture, electricity, and the Internet. If we must divide our resources, it seems reasonable structure our system so that it provides incentive for productivity.

However, if the power of those on top is not monitored, society will quickly grow unfair, and therefore will not be stable, productive, or anything else I'd want a society to be. I don't think it's necessary to delve deeply into why winner-take-all society wouldn't be very stable, so suffice to say: those who are starving need food, so they must take the food from those who have it, but those who have it aren't willing to give it up, so violence is the only option left for the starving (revolution!).

How would this happen? If we go to the extreme of having little or no government intervention, like no tax (estate, income, etc.), the rich would keep getting richer. As the wealthy have more resources, their children (even if less talented and/or hardworking) are far more likely to be on top, which would soon halt societal progress. Without wealth distribution, those who are born poor must remain poor. This is - for lack of a better word - bad for their happiness, as well as detrimental to all of society on several levels (stability, for one).

As the wealthy have more influence, they have connections to politicians and appointed officials - very dangerous in a representative democracy. The government must represent the entire constituency, which will certainly not be the case if the wealthy own our political processes. Votes can be manipulated through the media ($ owned), politicians can be bribed ($ owned), and the justice system will of course be skewed ($ owned).

Factor in corporations. Without regulatory interference, companies can and will quickly build up monopolies that can drive prices far beyond the product's value, rendering the free market system of supply-and-demand useless. Basically, products necessary for everyone will be in the control of only a few. Without government to check them, those who are greediest and most selfish will rise highest in society.

I believe in human goodness, but it's hard to doubt the existence of greed and avarice. As history has proved, wealth and power can corrupt, and if some are given both without any checks on potential abuse, I can't imagine society will last long.

Socialism

Far left socialism is no less dangerous. Though I think the socialist ideal of a worldwide and local cooperation is good, the socialist model is not the way to do it.

The problem with the really far left model, involving equal work and equal distribution, has already been discussed in depth by many, so I will only cover it briefly. I suppose that it once seemed like a better alternative to capitalism-gone-wild (it prevents the wealth gap and the consequent abuse of the $ owned government), but the society based on this model quickly collapses. Look at Communist China, Cuba, or to a certain extent, today's Europe. Europe is still great, but the cracks are starting to show.

The two major reasons are 1.) Socialism discourages work and effort by shifting consequences (positive and negative) onto others. 2.) Socialism restricts freedom of the individual. I'll begin by addressing the first.

By having a "security net" so secure that it's easier to not work than to work, nobody (well, few) will work. In a future world of more resources, perhaps that will become possible. But we are not even close to being there yet, and this system is unsustainable as it takes from those who would advance society and gives to those who don't.

The entire point of a security net is to make sure those who are deserving have the ability to exercise their potential (Note: I am aware that the ultimate point is to allow the happiness of everyone. I mean in the sense of its function in a developing society.). Why work your hide off to drag along those who are just kicking back? This system encourages laziness, and after a while even those who naturally would work will stop because of their unjust load.

This problem with socialism has a solution: move towards the center. By arranging society so that those who work harder, smarter, more creatively, and more productively are rewarded, all of society will ultimately benefit from their advances. If a safety net is retained, and it should be, downward spirals can be prevented and a basic standard of living can be available to all.

However, problem 2 (Socialism restricts freedom of the individual.) is not so easily solved. In fact, I can't think of a solution at all. I believe this is socialism's fatal flaw, and it's basically the reason I am capitalist. I will address this in detail later on, when it flows more appropriately.


Solutions in the Center

Clearly, there are problems once society leans too far in either direction. When I say I'm capitalist, this does not mean I'm advocating a far right government that will quickly grow corrupt and unfair. However, even though I see problems in the capitalist model, I see more flaws in the socialist one - and those cannot be resolved except by adjust socialism so much that it becomes capitalism. The flaws in capitalism can be addressed, but ultimately, the problems with socialism are fundamental.

Addressing Flaws in Capitalism

Let me begin with how to address the flaws in capitalism. The most prominent problem is wealth gap and its consequential injustice (wealthy owning democratic process, lack of social ladder). This needs to be addressed through a better wealth distribution system, to allow all individuals the potential, regardless of circumstances they were born into, to earn the best society can offer. This involves taxes, including income tax, sales tax (though exempting necessities like food and rent), and especially estate tax. I think how high specifically those need to be is best left to those who know economics better than I, so I won't give any specific opinions there.

Some seem to think that taxation of any sort is unfair; however, taxation is necessary (like mentioned above) to prevent the wealthy and corporations from monopolizing and owning the democratic process, which would quickly make society unjust and unproductive. The money from taxes would go to a tight safety net preventing downward spirals and enabling upward mobility, preventing the wealth gap from growing too large while still providing benefits for those who work and contribute versus those who don't.

Even if we had a good wealth distribution system, however, I believe the problem would remain with the wealthy ultimately owning the democratic process. The role of the government should be to work without bias for the happiness of all the people, and that will not happen if a section of the population has greater influence. The representatives in representative democracy are not infallible or necessarily virtuous, and money can corrupt the process and consequently the society. The government being transparent would help the problem, but over time I think money will cloud the transparency again.

In order to work and not collapse into majority over minority, it would take a great deal of reform (centuries perhaps) in public education and especially in culture, so I'll leave it as just food for thought for now.

Flaws in Socialism

I'll move on to the flaws I see in socialism. I'm certainly not the first to point these out, but it doesn't hurt to reiterate them. Let's begin with problems involving government. The most apparent problem today is democratic government not being democratic, whether because of corrupt politicians or the machinations by the rich. (I think that's resolvable through a great amount of time and effort, but, like mentioned above, that's for another hub.)

But even if we assume that the democratic government is functioning as it should, fairly and (most importantly) transparently, there is still a problem if there is no private property. This problem is that the society will have no protection of individual rights and will denigrate into a tyranny of the majority over the minority.

This was exactly what America's founding fathers were trying to prevent with a representative democracy. Because the "common hordes" were "uneducated and incapable" of placing the "correct" vote, representatives would help them along. Now, I think the "common hordes" are ready to truly evolve into a democracy, but this would not be a good thing if the evolution was done without safeguards. Too much power leads to abuse, whether intentionally or unintentionally; in this case, it would be too much power in the hands of the majority. Whether a direct democracy is a good idea or not is for another discussion (I think it's an idea that has potential in today's world.), but abolishing private property is a terrible idea.

Clearly if the majority (with transparency, this would be effectively the same thing as the government) would destroy individual rights if it had control over individual property. Let's leave aside means of production for now. Simplistic example: Individual enjoys black licorice, while the majority does not enjoy black licorice. The majority is not altruistic or doesn't understand the individual's love of black licorice. The individual is unable to get black licorice, as the ingredients and means of production belong to the group, and therefore the majority controls the black licorice.

For the socialist model to work, the majority has to be both altruistic and empathetic. I'm not saying that's impossible, or that it doesn't sometimes happen. But I don't think it is a good idea to place responsibility and consequences of individual actions onto all, as that causes 1.) lack of motivation to work, 2.) lack of freedom, and consequently 3.) lack of happiness in the society. To do so makes the society incredibly unstable. I can't think of a way for freedom and individual autonomy to survive in a society where all are one, and consequences and rights are not conferred onto the individual, where I wholeheartedly believe they belong.

Means of Production

Moving even closer to the center, the ownership of the means of production is the final thing I want to address. My reasoning against common ownership is the same as my reasoning for individual property. In addressing essential items, like agriculture, common ownership would give the majority an incredible amount of leverage. Products necessary for all must be available for all, and I'm afraid that would not happen fairly in a society that has no safeguards for individual rights.

Once society culturally evolves and more people gain an understanding of both the mechanics of the world and also of a common goal, perhaps then we could discuss public ownership of large, national industries, like mines and farms. But that would require a great deal of reform in public education and government transparency, and neither of those should be rushed. The means will be everything in creating a stable, happy society. I don't believe we are yet ready for any venture into the left. (The above paragraph was added after several insightful comments were posted by both socialists and capitalists.)

Comments are welcomed and like always will not be censored, but please do not post generic hate and spam. Also, if you have the time, I highly recommend reading through the comments section - there are several waves of productive, intelligent discussion there. Thanks for reading!

[Edit, 12/11/14: Incredible. It's been more than two years since I've posted this article. I'm no longer active on HubPages, and I was thinking about taking my work down just to make a clean break; however, several readers commented that they find the hub and especially the comments to be pretty valuable. Thank you, guys - we'll leave the discussion posted for posterity then. Readers are still encouraged to post their thoughts and add to the fantastic collection of comments.]

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    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      Well firstly, well written hub, voted up and interest, to be clear on my stance from the beginning I am an economist and a socialist so I will approach the issue more from the economic side though I will have a whack at the liberties issue.

      Firstly your statement about the motivation issue to make people work is not factual (please note we are talking about socialism not communism) the tagline of many socialist rebellions was "he who does not work neither shall he eat" under socialism the state guarantees a job and will provide unemployment if you can't get one immediately but if you choose not to work there is no safety net or entitlement program socialism is a system to help the working man not the leech.

      Under a socialist system a person has more incentive to work than under a capitalist system, he would still have a supervisor, and he usually has a quota to meet, if he does not work he can be fired or fined and if he does not meet the quota he can be paid less, just the same as in capitalism. On the other hand the wages are for most people much better under socialism (because people get a fair share of their wage rather than the majority of the profits going to those at the top of the workplace) and workers are treated with more respect and given a better complaint system that includes on site workers advocates etc.

      Basically all the same reasons to work exist under capitalism plus there are a few more incentives, furthermore people who work the hardest will be the ones promoted not the ones who are from the right family or who have the right connections.

      Next the idea that the majority has to be altruistic, simply not so, people work for a fair wage and what they don't get goes to the government whose job it is to ensure a good life for all working citizens.

      Finally there is no reason or cause to abolish private property under socialism the only property that becomes public that was private is the means of production, so mines and factories, that does not impact on liberty.

      I will leave it there for now because I don't want to post a wall of text on here.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      Under slavery, the slave worked just hard enough to keep the overseer's lash off his or her back, and no more. The same appears to be true under Socialism. There is no incentive for a worker to excel as the reward for extra work remains the same. If you institute a system of rewards - say piecework incentives in a factory - then you have abandoned Socialism in favor of some form of Capitalism.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      Explain to me how this is different to capitalism, say i work in a factory, I have a supervisor and a quota and if I exceed that quota I can be promoted or given a small bonus.

      Furthermore there is nothing un-socialist about incentives, you are thinking about communism. Socialism is simply about society and the people owning the means of production.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      If all you are doing is replacing upper management with bureaucrats, than you haven't exactly done much of anything, have you? Fact is, you have probably worsened the situation because now you have people at the top who have no real incentive to see that the business runs properly. Right now, the CEO and the executive suite are judged by the bottom line. Who judges and on what criteria do you judge when the people run the business?

      And then bear in mind, FedEx and UPS both run at a profit while the government, in its wisdom and illustrating its business acumen, dropped more than $3 billion down the toilet in the first three months of this year while running the magnificently successful and spectacular U.S. Post Office. Not exactly a good advertisement for the potential success of government owned businesses.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Hi Josak. I agree that there are ways to modify socialism to make motivation possible; I stated that, though only briefly, in the hub. That I find resolvable. The problem I have with socialism is with the means of production ownership, where the debate is really right on the definition line. I don't agree with more public ownership in general, whether private or means of production, because of the consequent problems of the majority overriding the minority. For this I'm talking about essentials, like agriculture (food)and mining (energy). With his leverage, the majority would effectively have veto over the minority, suffocating indvl rights.

      Of course, all of this discussion is based on the assumption that government is already transparent and fair. Not quite there yet, so that would have to come first.

      I do disagree on the society being altruistic. All societies are necessarily based on the assumption that as humans we are happier if others around us are too. The difference is that socialism requires far more than capitalism that any given individual not only WANT others to be happier, but also that they KNOW what would make them happier. This is certainly not always true (Stalin, Mao Zedong), so that's what I fear from a socialism without safeguards.

      Thanks for dropping by, always good to see you.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      My problem with government-owned businesses is not that they don't perform well, but the problems I stated in my hub and in my comments. It's perfectly true that they don't, but that's a separate issue.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      When I used "capitalism" and "socialism" in my hub, what i meant was the split between privately-owned means of production and publicly owned, and everything right and left of that.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      The market can dictate what people want, it's not necessary for others to know, in our example you talk about soup if there is a significant minority who want soup the market will justify the creation of soup for them, there is no reason for anyone to meddle with something that is making the country money. Also Mao and Stalin were communists and their system was not democratic.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Perhaps soup was a poorly chosen example. What I meant to express with the metaphor was not necessarily marketable goods, but a direction for society to take. I believe socialism suffocates creativity and entrepreneurship by shifting consequences from the individual to the general society.

      For Mao and Stalin - I meant to use them as examples of how those with good intentions can cause a lot of damage. In a socialist society, it would be the majority that could become Mao and Stalin.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      But surely that can still happen under a capitalist system? I am sure plenty of people in the US do not approve of the direction the majority is moving in the US but their vote is drowned out by the majority, as long as there is a constitution to protect basic liberties (all democratic socialist states I know of have one) then there is no difference right?

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      It certainly could happen, and I think is happening, under a capitalist system. However, I find that situation to be much more dangerous in a socialist society, the reason being there are no/fewer safeguards to prevent a tyranny of the majority. We've already established that public ownership of the means of production gives the majority more leverage. That combined with a system that tends towards redistributing personal consequences to the public makes for a dangerous situation.

      The problem in today's American capitalism is that many are unable to wield any influence because they have fallen under the "downward spiral" line, so first and foremost a security net and a more fair wealth distribution system would have to be put into place.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      How exactly does the state owning the factories and mines make the tyranny of the majority more likely? If the state wants to enforce it's will it needs the police and military and it already has those.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Because the state (which in an "ideal" world would be roughly the majority) would have control over resources necessary for all. When majority control the market (effectively a sort of monopoly) that way, the society will tend towards majority over minority, as the minority will have far less leverage and therefore less freedom.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      So in a real world context, America is just as it is now but the government owns the mine and factories (not distribution just production) and I am a person who disagrees with the direction we are going, how can this be used against me?

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      @Josak - Assuming the world has used the same "means of production" reasoning to give control to the gov/majority of agriculture, mining, and factories, an individual in the minority would be affected greatly. For example, if a minority who was (perhaps at first unintentionally) unjustly losing out on coal resources, he would need to RELY on the altruism of the majority to give him more "shares", instead of being able to bargain with other individuals with resources or services. Socialism encourages a "group think" that I believe would in fact lessen individual altruism by removing personal responsibility. Am I understanding your question correctly?

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      But that is communism, under socialism (again moderate socialism) companies are still run individually but their profits go to the government so if I was being deprived of coal I could go to a coal company and buy it, more centrally it is not the means of distribution, but the means of production, so say a mine produces coal they in turn sell it to a distributor to sell the coal and I buy it from the distributor who is not government owned so the ownership of the means of production never affects me.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      @Josak Then why have the gov own the mine? If individual companies still function based on the market, what is the benefit to having the government/majority have control of the mine? The negative I see is that, though I doubt it will happen in the short term, eventually public-ownership will tend the majority towards having too much leverage and power over individuals.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      The benefit to the public owning the mine is that the profit goes to the public rather than to the private owners, allowing for better public services and wages etc.

      Distribution remains owned privately but with a maximum wage so that the profits are far more evenly divided amongst the workers rather than going nearly entirely to the owner.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      I agree on distribution of wages, but I don't on public ownership. I see now where our disagreement lies; you believe that the benefit (profit for the public good) trumps the negative (potential to denigrate into a tyranny of the majority over minority). Do you agree? I stated in the hub and above in the comments why.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 5 years ago from America

      Josak, socialism is nothing more than the beginnings of communism. No one country became communist without first being socialist.

      Here is a little history lesson for you: When the Pilgrims came to America they established plots of land for each family. The premise was what ever each family produced would be divided amongst everyone. for the first several years they literaly almost starved to death. Leadership decided this system was to burdensome and said next year everyone is on their own. The next year there was so much wealth and bulk the people were able to barter with their excess and trade for other things they needed. The moral is people become lazy when they begin to think I don't need to put out much effort if I am going to receive part of anothers labor. This is true history. It was the beginning of capitalism. It also explains why Russia has never produced a car the world wanted.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Hi American Romance. Good point; I agree that socialism by nature tends towards communism. Thanks for stopping by.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Hi Bob, saw that you started following me so I thought I would come take a look. I am glad I did, both for the hub and also for the comments.

      You managed, in a few words, to discribe the problems with unfettered capitalism more clearly than I have been able to do with ten times that many, thanks. Rated awesome and useful, just for that. Rated interesting for everything else. I find on value in the Up or Down votes, so I don't use them.

      In reading through the string of comments I noticed one thing, that was the blending of the economic socialist system with a political system. I fall victim to that frequently myself. But, it seems to me, when we talk about a socialist economic system and a socialist political system, you are effectively talking communism. (BTW, I can think of one country that started out a little bit socialist and then became communist; as best as I can remember, they were all born that way.)

      When you talk about a socialist economic system with a far left democratic political system, you have something like Europe.

      When you have a capitalist economic system with a conservative to progressive democratic political system, you have America.

      However, in America, conservatives think progressives are political/economic socialists (they really don't know the difference)

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      @J0sak, you got to put what you said on my list of things to research as you sent my stereotype down the toilet. I hadn't really thought too much about the socialist system much, my concetration has been on getting capitalism right, which is along the lines Bob has outlined. You have, however, made some excellent distinctions between how capitalists conceive economic socialism works and how socialist economists percieve it.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 4 years ago from variable

      @Bob, I don't see it as one or the other, i think the public good is incredibly important, but i fully understand the dangers of tyranny (I grew up in a repressive dictatorship) that is part of why I don't support communism and why i firmly believe in a democratic process and a constitution to restrain the powers of government, I just don't see how in a practical sense the government can tend to tyranny if they own the mines and farms any more than it already does, if the government want's to oppress the people it has a massive military and police force, owning mines and farms won't aid that process.

      AR, communism and socialism are very different I have a hub on it which you can read if you wish, socialism is leftist yes but that does not make it communism anymore than conservatism is fascism for being right wing or libertarians are anarchists for wanting to minimize government interference.

      @My esoteric, thank you, it certainly warrants a read at least.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @My Esoteric - Thank you for the comment and compliment, both are greatly appreciated.

      Special thanks for the definitions you provided to differentiate the systems and the perceptions. It is easy, especially for me, to blend, as my interest and writing is generally more concerned with the ideology and justification behind both systems. Forgive any unclearness of my understanding/misuse of terms, and thank you for clearing that up.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Josak - We are absolutely agreed on the merits of recognizing indvl rights and the democratic process. I also understand your defense of gov owned mines and farms, and agree with your reasoning. The reason I oppose gov ownership is that I firmly believe that carrying out reform naturally and carefully is incredibly important. The means will be everything.

      Especially here in the States, the people and consequently the government do not have a deep enough understanding of the (for lack of a better word) world and its workings, and the cultural altruism that's already present in places like Europe and Japan simply are not here yet.

      Government with public ownership can lead to tyranny because 1.) the gov is not transparent nor even yet accurately representing the people, for the reasons stated in the hub. 2.) the Mao-Stalin majority problem, with leverage. 3.) Lack of understanding of fundamental altruism as an essential part of happiness and society, which I mentioned in a previous hub explaining my basis.

      Once public education and general understanding is widespread, gov ownership will not be a problem. But understanding is not widespread, and reform will have to slowly take place for government ownership to be safe.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 4 years ago from variable

      Fair enough Bob, I agree that particularly in the US change will be slow and it should also be cautious to establish a transparent government and a strong constitution.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      As I was reading your hub, Bob, I was allowing myself to fall into the same trap ... again ... until I read Josak's comments; then rememberance snapped in. He also gave me something to chew on in terms of ownership of the means of production and work ethic; I sort of buy what he says, it makes sense to me as being realistic. Again, this is being colored by our country's obsession with the Soviet Union and their brand of Communism where there was no work ethic, only vodka. BTW, my Russian born and once-practicing doctor confirmed this, the vodka addiction in Russia is no stereotype but very real.

      Where you get disincintive to get ahead, in my view, is when a socialist country is so pervasive that it controls ALL means of production and distribution and prohibits all forms of private real estate ownership. In that case, you have no merchant-class nor an independent-farmer class.

      Further, you can be a econonic socialist country, I think, and not control ALL means of industrial production and distribution. It could limit itself, as I believe most do, to heavy, national industries and distribution systems and not light industry, etc.

      Do I have that about right, Josak?

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 4 years ago from variable

      Yeah that about sums it up.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Whoa, that was an excellent summary, Esoteric. Great points by both you and Josak, thank you both for your insightful comments. After our discussion, I will have to do some editing to make some things more clear.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      That is what makes hubpages and discussions like this so useful. I hope, along the way, I have opened a couple of conservative eyes who have, or would have, scored low on my RWA survey.

      By the way, one of things you seem to be searching for, Bob, is Aristotle's idea of the "Golden Mean".

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      MyEsoteric - I'm no professor of philosophy, and my knowledge of the "Golden Mean" amounts to the Wikipedia article I just read. But I believe in balance and harmony, and also that the middle is the middle for a reason. Glad to hear that others do too!

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      I am an Indian, i have my reservations against both systyems. Any ism goes extreme ,it fails. To operate any system it rquires good governor and governance. there were communes in USSR and China , over the period it failed because of imposition of unwanted philosophy and rules,finally people revolt,The mass can not be kept in barack, needs freedom.In Israel Kibutz identical to commune worked well because of people volutarily joined and assimilated, for development people's participation is important.

      Capitalism allows creativity and productivity and development was focus but lack of human face and dog eat dog culture damaged merits of capitalism, it became abusive word.

      i think only democratic nations can implement social welfare schemes better than authoritarian regimes, it is proved.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Absolutely right Pramodgokhale. Your comment on extremes applies to almost anything in life as Aristotle took great pains to explain when developing his ideas on Ethics and the "Golden Mean". I suspect there is something similar buried in the Bhagavad Gita somewhere.

      Surprisingly, pure democracies don't have a good record either, starting with Athens, because of a lack of protection for minority rights. That is the beauty of our Constitution in that, to the consternation of our conservatives, it does ... now; it didn't start out that way in order have a nation in the first place.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Wow, thank you everyone for the fantastic comments!

      Pramodkhale, excellent points on both that neither extreme works, and especially that the people need to be the insinuators for the society to be stable. Thank you for stopping by.

      My Esoteric, another great comment, now on the failures of pure democracy. It seems that balance and the order in which a nation is created makes all the difference.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      You say against socialism that "Products necessary for all must be available for all" but capitalism blatantly fails to provide products necessary for all to all, only to those who can pay for them!

      May be more after I've slept but just wanted to raise that point tonight.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thanks for stopping by, John. Capitalism, a fair capitalism, doesn't provide anything besides a very sturdy ladder of potential, which it makes the priority to provide. A "ladder" includes a sturdy safety net to prevent downward spirals and to ensure anyone willing to work can reach the best society has to offer. With this incentive/just reward (it's both), the people who contribute most to advancing society (allowing more for everyone) get the most reward, while still maintaining a balance to prevent the wealth gap from growing. If anything is unclear about my comment, tell me and I'll do my best to explain.

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      Josak 4 years ago from variable

      Bob, could you give an example of where if anywhere that kind of capitalism exists? Because the reality of capitalist countries is increasing wealth gaps and poverty.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      As a matter of fact, I could not, because I don't think a fair capitalism exists anywhere right now. However, I think that countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain will evolve into fair capitalisms (they aren't far in any way but policy :D), and I have hope that China will evolve into one as well. The fact that none exist has little bearing on whether one could or no bearing on whether one should. I can see no flaws in the centrist conservative ideology, which is of course why I'm a capitalist.

      Note: If any other readers can think of a fair capitalism existing today, please post it.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 4 years ago from variable

      I just wonder then how realistic it is (not necessarily saying it is not) or if greed would create a process where a fair capitalist system was just unsustainable.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      The period from 1950 to 1980 wasn't too bad at all. Most basic industries were free to grow, prosper, and innovate although many essential industries like airlines, communications, health, and the like were government regulated monopolies and oligopolies with price controls. Unfortunately, few environmental regulations were in the offing then.

      However, the distribution of wealth remained relatively constant with all sectors of society benefiting from pretty sustained growth in the 1960s and suffering equaly in the ups and down's of the other periods.

      It wasn't until 1982 when things started getting out of hand and the rich left everybody else in the dust with the tax cuts on the rich and the beginning of deregulation in America.

      Jasak, if you haven't yet, you might glance through my hub on depressions and recessions in America, especially the sections on the mid to late 1800s. You should get a very good idea of what greed does on unfettered capitalism.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Josak - Like I've said before in other instances, capitalism ideologically rests on the idea that people are good at heart. I believe this. Certainly greed and selfishness exist; I don't advocate an unfettered capitalism, which is what I called a "capitalism-gone-wild". Especially in controlling monopolizing and providing a ladder of potential, I think government should play a role. But in the end, after education and (for lack of a better world) altruistic culture spreads, we rely on the individual's understanding and compassion. I've always felt like that was the fundamental difference in the bases of the two ideologies; one distrusts the "masses", the other relies on the individual. Do you disagree?

      @My Esoteric - I agree that the 50s to 80s era was a good one, until the extremes started to pull the country apart again. Though I'm no expert on that time, it seems that 1982 was indeed an ugly example of the beginnings of a capitalism-gone-wild.

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      Logan 4 years ago

      Capitalism worked in the past and works now. Socialism has never worked in the past and does not now. Crapitalism has never worked in the past and does not now(USA).

      I liked what Gingrich said about unemployment benefits-the reciever should be doing some "training" or along those lines while receiving those benefits, so they don't just milk it up like my cousin does. I think also everyone should be able to opt out of welfare such as Social Security. No harm to that.

      As far as the corruption of politicians by wealkthy-dont allow them to receive money in any way through lobbying. Im not just talkin about corporations-the unions are what i fear the most. They have damned my state California to hell. Our education went from first to 48th years ago.

      The fair share tax wont change a damn thing as much as some would like it do. As soon as the tax gets high in the wealthies minds. They will hide the money. Only at normal levels will they actually pay it which is why they pay a lower percentage of their income. They still pay for the 50% of the US population that don't. Estonia has a flat tax and they are rising.

      Taxes are the least of my worries, spending is the most.

      Depressions are all under the feds watch and he says he got somtin to fix it. Yet we didn't get out of the depression until our soldiers came back. We haven't gotten out of the recession with the increased spending under bush and obama. Wasting money doesn't seem to be in the minds of both republicans and democrats.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      These comments for Logan are sort of confusing, but I will take a stab at them. Captialism has worked, yes, just look at the US, but so has Socialism. I think Canada, Sweedan, England, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc, etc, have all thought they have done pretty well and I agree.

      Unemployment was intended to tied one over between jobs when one was laid off through no fault of the employee, no training should be needed. One should run ones economy such that we don't have long-term unemployment. We did a pretty good job of that from 1945 to 2006, but starting in 2000, the Republicans forgot how to do that and returned to the economics of the 1800s when long-term unemployment was common.

      Depressions have ONLY occurred when there was no Federal Reserve save for the big one in 1929 when the Fed sat on the sidelines like it did in 2008. Virtually ALL depressions were the result of greed, the lack of regulations in the financial industry, and the business sector not being able to police itself, just like in 2008.

      I am not sure why you are so scared of unions, they only influence about 15% of the labor market now, Corporations influence 100% of the business and financial sectors.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Sorry about the long delay in my response; I've been abroad.

      My Esoteric - Thank you for your response to Logan. I'm no economist, but I agree with everything you said after your first paragraph. However, I would say Canada and socialist Europe has worked SO FAR. (Forgive the capitalizing; not certain how to italicize on comments.)

      I worry that the socialist countries are setting themselves up for either an usurpation by individuals gaining power over the gov or, in the long term, a tyranny of the majority, for all the reasons stated in the hub. This is not to mention the economical damage that I think is already apparent in countries like Spain and Greece.

      Logan - "Crapitalism": Never heard that before! I like it.

      I'm not sure I understand your position against lobbying. I feel a fair bit more accepting towards the unions versus the corporations, because at least in most cases the unions (hopefully) aim for the welfare of its people. Whether they usually succeed or not is for a different discussion.

      I disagree with the reason for your opposition of an increase in taxes on the wealthy. Because some may disobey it, we shouldn't implement it? If the only opposition to a policy is that some people selfishly won't like it, I would say that's irrelevant.

      I mostly agree with My Esoteric's take on the Fed's management, though it seems to me there has been more mismanagement than My Esoteric's response paints. However, I'm not qualified to respond on these issues.

      Thank you both for your comments.

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      If I may start on the points that Socialism discourages work and effort, as well as it being easier to not work than work. On the latter point may I refer you to the original constitution of communist Russia and article 18 “The [state] recognizes work to be the duty of all citizens of the republic and proclaims the watchword: "He who does not work shall not eat." But also, if we take the example of Russia’s transition from socialism to capitalism we do not find people working harder and earning more, instead there is an economic decline greater than in the US during the depression, unemployment soared, inflation spiralled, the country lost its first class debtor status. Rather than people working hard and being rewarded the result is wild west banditry where workers become unemployed or lose their rights and privileges and a gangster oligarchy seizes the nations wealth.

      There also seems to be slight contradiction to me in on the one hand claiming socialism restricts freedom, and on the other suggesting that it is easy to choose not to work. If this were true, I am sure you would agree this is a pretty substantial freedom, one which is above and beyond that which we have in capitalist countries.

      Also, if people will choose not to work, and not working is unsustainable, this surely contradicts all of the evidence such as constitutional guarantee of a job found in most of the former Socialist Republics. Yet in any capitalist country we find millions of unemployed. Therefore, if people not working is unsustainable, it is surely capitalism that is unsustainable?

      “Why work your hide off to drag along those who are just kicking back? This system encourages laziness, and after a while even those who naturally would work will stop because of their unjust load.”

      To me this statement perfectly describes capitalism rather than socialism. I am apprehensive to over-promote my own work, but nonetheless I think this expresses my point concisely https://hubpages.com/politics/If-Wealth-is-a-Produ...

      I am personally more motivated to work if I receive the benefits of my labour, meaning that I receive my wage and I know that my surplus labour value will be added to state social fund for health, education etc rather than going in the pocket of a shareholder or company director. In the latter case I am entirely unmotivated.

      I would also suggest that under socialism ingenuity and skill are rewarded. It is not as if in socialist countries there is entirely equal pay. In the USSR highly skilled (Scientists etc) or labour intensive jobs (coal miners etc) were higher rewarded. But unlike capitalism one could not be rewarded by expropriating the labour of others and therefore obscene wealth gaps were prevented.

      I am probably not the best person to argue about democracy, as I am strictly an orthodox Leninist and my own conception of socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat, or what you call “the tyranny of the majority over the minority“. I believe the correctness of Lenin’s theory has been shown by all examples in history, essentially that “The state is a product and a manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The state arises where, when and insofar as class antagonisms objectively cannot be reconciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that the class antagonisms are irreconcilable.” What can be directly inferred is that all states are states of class oppression. The state exists so that one class may exploit another. The dictatorship of the proletariat (which is the only definition of socialism acceptable to me) is the first state where we have “the tyranny of the majority over the minority“ as opposed to the inverse “tyranny of the minority over the majority”.

      I hope I have not wittered on too much. And as much as I have disagreed with, it was an enjoyable read.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Hey, Comrade Joe. I very much appreciate your response; I'll respond in kind.

      I'm very interested in your Leninism, but first I'll quickly address what you said about socialism discouraging work and effort, or rather not discouraging work and effort. I agree. We're in agreement on this point. In the hub, I stated that a solution to this problem of socialism's was indeed possible, in the last few paragraphs before "Solutions in the center". Also, check out Josak's first comments and my responses. It's perfectly possible to structure socialism so that it moves towards the center a bit and rewards people for their labors and contributions. No argument from me on that point.

      You also mentioned the wage gap. A very fair criticism of capitalism, and I think that this is indeed a growing problem in several countries, like the US and the PRC. However, this problem is resolvable. I believe in minimum wage, in monopoly laws, in worker's unions (in some ways), and definitely in a sturdy ladder of opportunity. That would me, the capitalist, seeing why it's necessary to move towards the center (this is in the hub, under "Solutions in the center".

      Now onto your second point. As an orthodox Leninist, what do you believe? I'm unfamiliar with the ideology, but from what I know it is like socialism and communism in that it redistributes wealth, though from what you said about "he who does not work shall not eat", I gather that you support incentives/just rewards (it's both) for those who contribute more. Jolly good.

      However, you then say "the dictatorship of the proletariat" or "the tyranny of the majoriy over the minority" is what you think an ideal society would look like. Can't agree with that. Because we both now are in the center, we've arrived at the section in the hub called "Flaws in socialism". If that section was ambiguous (and I know it wasn't very well expressed; couldn't think of a better simplistic example), please read through a few of the comments by Josak and my responses to them. Feel free to point out any remaining ambiguities.

      I'm a bit confused on the advocacy for a tyranny of the majority. Do you disagree with my reasoning that this would suffocate individual rights, and that indvl rights are essential for a society? I defended this in a few of the comments above, and of course in the hub itself. From what I see, a tyranny of the majority might be better than a tyranny of the minority, but it sure as hell isn't as good as freedom. Please see my hub: https://hubpages.com/politics/a-perfect-society... to see if we are agreed on the goal we're aiming for.

      Under a fair capitalism, there need be no tyranny at all. With a ladder of opportunity and a safety net at the bottom, anyone would be able to reach the highest society has to offer. Not saying we're there yet, but I am saying that's possible, and the goal we should work towards. And when the advancement of technology and resources comes to a point where competition and allocating resoursces becomes a minor concern, I think the capitalist way will bear fruit in a stable, productive, and happy society.Thanks for the comment, Comrade Joe, really appreciate it.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Under Communism, individual rights are not a consideration; it is taking "do not ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country" to the extreme. It is the collective rights. Further, despite its name, Socialism is an economic system while Communism is a political-social-economic system. You have many different forms of political-social governments today that adopt socialist economic systems, America considered once, for that matter way back when; but you only have one communist government with different economic philosophies.

      It is hard to keep the two apart in today's "one-size-fits-all" bumper-sticker world.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Beautifully stated on communism, My Esoteric, and thank you for once again clearing up the blending of economic systems and political systems. I did my best to define everything I referred to in the hub, but in the comments I often lapse into using subjective terms again.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Despite my missing words, eh, lol?

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      My Esoteric - If I may begin by challenging your conception of communism. I feel obliged to as it is not my conception of communism, nor do I believe it is how my many comrades in many different communist parties see our ideology. Communism is not a political system at all, it is the absence of a political system facilitated by the absence of classes, as classes are to be destroyed in the transitory socialist epoch that bridges capitalism and communism. There has never existed a communist country, there has only existed socialist states ruled by communist parties, for instance Cuba is a socialist country but it is governed by the communist party, they just haven‘t reached communism yet as communism cannot be built in one country alone, only socialism can. A communist state is in actuality an oxymoron, as by definition communist society has no government, the state withers away.

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      Bob - Orthodox Leninism essentially means I am an advocate of Lenin’s branch of Marxism, Soviet Socialism, Communism, Stalinism - different people give it different tags. I use orthodox Leninist to differentiate myself from revisionist communism ala Tito, Khruschev, Gorbachev. So I am unreservedly for one party rule, a planned economy, full employment and all social provisions provided for by the state. Eventually as the global tide swings in favour of communism and socialism we start to dismantle governments and run our own affairs when we are equipped to do so. I certainly am in favour of incentives, but nothing absurd. I am a strong advocate of not only a minimum wage but a maximum wage.

      I’ll try to be brief on individual rights as I reach my stance in a fairly complex way. First of all Communism/Marxism-Leninism is a theory of history. In human history there are distinct epochs which are defined by their mode of production. This history begins with primitive communism, hunter-gatherer tribes based on collectivism. Somewhere along the line this morphed into a class society, as the strong/smart of the tribe could dominate the weak. So slave society arises. One class produces (slaves) and another consumes (master). As both groups have fundamental interests, the ruling class creates a state which formalises their rule and protects their rights of ownership. Gradually this moves into feudalism with Landowners and serfs, once again we have a class society with distinct interests and one class dominates and cements its rule - they become the nobility and aristocracy. But in this era trade emerged, as unlike under slavery the serf is tied to the land and has to give x amount of his work time to his aristocratic landowner, the rest of the time he may work the land for his own benefit. It is this surplus that creates a new entrepreneurial capitalist class and owners of the means of production: the Bourgeoisie. As time passed the bourgeoisie grew in wealth and the aristocracy and monarchs declined. The Bourgeoisie wanted and needed political power to match their wealth and so they get rid of the monarchy and form parliaments in order to run their affairs and deal with trade disputes etc By overthrowing the feudal system the capitalist bourgeoisie are the original revolutionaries. Juxtaposed to this class are the proletariat who own nothing but their labour power. Like the slaves and serfs before them they are compelled to work predominantly for the benefit of the ruling class. What we see is all states hitherto existing are class societies where the minority class dominates the majority.

      Now this is where socialism comes. Disenfranchised, impoverished and exploited the proletariat must rally behind the communist party to bury capitalism and transform class rule into the rule of the proletariat, the majority. This is socialism, a state run by the communist party for the benefit of the exploited class. The ambition of this era is to manage society in such a way that classes no longer exist. Once this is achieved globally the state withers away and we will have international collective self-government. This is communism.

      You see it is from this understanding of history and within this framework and context that I justify my “tyranny of the majority”

      You see, I see individual rights as an illusion instead the ruling class have their rule cemented by certain rights. For instance, is it not odd that our society talks up the right to property but there is little on the right to employment, the right to food and shelter etc Individual rights under capitalism are rights that favour the bourgeoisie

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Comrade Bob, that is an excellent encapsulation of history from that perspective, I may use it some day; very succinct and accurate from my knowledge of history.

      But, beginning with your third to the last paragraph "Now this is where socialism ...", it doesn't necessarily have to follow, and America is a good example of that, flawed as it might be.

      What Marx wrongly assumed is that governments would let Capitalism follow its natural course, iwhich, if left on its own, leads right back to a master/slave society; that is just human nature, lack of regulation and greed all mixed together.

      But, what America proved could happen is that government can intervene in the natural course of capitalism and put a governor on the more nasty attributes of the system so that there is a negative feedback loop created to prevent unlimited wealth being created of the backs of the "prolitariate" if you will, and such that the People actually benefit from increase in wealth of the whole society. That is what happened in the 1950s - 2000s, although it began slowing down in the 1980s.

      However, the seeds of this were planted in mid- to late 1800s with the advent of the Progressive movement and the unshackling of labor from leg-irons of management via federal government regulations. Prior to that, the federal government, including the Supreme Court I just found out, worked hand-in-hand to keep labor subservient to big business, insuring they had zero rights and no legal advocates.

      From Lenin on, don't forget, they were not to be outdone by our bourgeois Robber Barrons in terms of enslaving the masses, at no time in the Soviet Union or Communist China's history have the People ever attained even a symblence of the promise of Communism; they were more of a slave to their Bourgeoisie Party leadership than any factory worker in America was to the corporate boss. For one thing, they didn't have to worry about being randomly picked up by secret police and shippied off to a Gulag.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Ha, Comrade Bob, My Esoteric? There is a nice ring to it; should've thought about my username more thoroughly. :D

      Thank you both for your comments; I promise to respond to them in detail later today.

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      Although I did give a rather linear account of the Marxist conception of history for the sake of brevity, but it is more useful to think of history as zig-zagging rather than linear. For instance, I explain that feudalism evolves and the bourgeois revolution occurs, generally speaking this is true. The obvious example is the French Revolution. This was the event which began the general trend towards bourgeois revolution and Parliamentariasm. However, two key points can be made. Firstly, the French Revolution did not signal the end of the previous order on a global stage. The global power remained Great Britain with it’s absolute monarchy. Other great powers like Prussia and Russia had a similar arrangement. So not only if we were to look at the world in the aftermath of the French Revolution, we would not say that capitalism and parliamentariasm/the bourgeois state represented the dominant order, and we would even go so far as to say capitalism and the bourgeois state were inferior. After all, the top global powers were absolutist monarchies dependent on the old modes of production: naked exploitation and imperialism. Similarly today, we have had socialist revolutions but the dominant power remains a capitalististic bourgeois state, as do most other big powers. But nonetheless, the general trend towards socialism has begun.

      The second key point in this respect is that after the French Revolution occurred it would not be secured, it was susceptible to regression, and regress it did. With Napoleon came a return to the old order of absolutism.: history zig-zagged. Although a regression occurred, it was a temporary regression, as not only did France eventually re-advance to parliamentariasm, the world eventually followed, barring some underdeveloped states where absolutism remained due to the lack of a significant national bourgeoisie able to take power. Again, the Glorious October Revolution occurred and ultimately went into a form of historical regression. But the cat is out of the bag, other countries had followed suit from Cuba to Korea. Also, much like Napoleon and absolutism came back in France to ultimately be defeated, we see Russia’s Napoleon today looks like meeting the same fate: the Communist Party grow in strength and eat away at Putin’s support by the day. I believe there are only so many elections he can rig, so many social services he can cut before the people re-awaken.

      On your points about the US, I have to admit I find the US to be a peculiar example to present. If I were to construct an argument for a managed capitalism with legal constraints and seeming fairness, I would be much more inclined to present a Sweden or Norway, where correct me if I am wrong, I believe GDP per capita is higher than the US, the income disparity is much lower and the social safety net is far more advanced, meaning the people are both wealthier and more equal. That is if I wanted to argue in favour of capitalism, because to be honest, I tend to use the US as an example of everything that is wrong with capitalism.

      I would challenge the notion that the Soviet police “randomly” picked people up. We could argue whether the punishment fits the crime, or that the crime is even a crime, but I do not think we can argue that it was random, barring the odd miscarriage of justice that is found in any state. But I would also add that it is not quite so clear cut as this not happening In the US or under capitalism in general. Famously, McCarthyism targeted people for their beliefs, this was as “random” as what happened in the USSR. Today here in Britain we have Islamists being locked up for saying things the authorities do not like, we have detention without trial, Irish nationalists used to be interned indefinitely without charge and were subject to beatings, hunger and systematic inhumanity. Capitalist states are not innocent. There may not be Gulag’s but I would suggest prisons are little more humane if at all.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      In addressing your last paragraph first, you are clearly right, the non-commistic socialist and capitalist nations do not have anywhere near a clean record in this regard, but to equate the mass murders of the Stalin and Mao regimes, the pure depavity of the gulag system in the Soviet Union and "reeducation" camps of China or, to a lesser extent in Vietnam, after we lost that war to even our worst method of incarceration (save the most recent "rendition" efforts under the Bush administration) is being naieve at best and disengineous at worst. I have talked to a couple of Vietnamese survivors of the Vietnamese reeducations facilities that managed to get to the States, they were horrific stories.

      As to the "random" nature of being picked up in the Stalin and Mao era, that is pretty well documented and not much debated any more; naysayers are generally placed in the category of holocost denyers. Now, I cannot speak to what occurred under Bresniff and Gorbochaf, they may have lightened up somewhat, but the KGB was a very feared secret police.

      If I am not mistaken, aren't Sweden and Norway socialist economic systems, rather than capitalist? They do, however, possess the better statistics that you mention, I believe. In my opinion, though, America is living proof that properly regulated capitalism works best in terms of steady growth and give the individual the greatest amount of individual libirty which one loses as you move toward a more socialist economic and communist political system.

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      I would suggest “well documented” is quite a stretch, certainly in the case of Stalin. Since the destruction of the USSR Stalin’s name is largely cleared. How long this takes to filter into wider society we can’t know. Most documents long-buried in the Kremlin have been released, studied by academics and been shown to clear Stalin of the slander aimed at his name. What you mean by well documented is a mixture of cold war propaganda and nonsense that stemmed from Khrushchev’s allegations against Stalin launched at the 20th Congress of the CPSU. Every single allegation has been since proven false by the American academic Grover Furr. Things like the purges did occur, but they were not random. They were aimed at the right-wing of the communist party. Again I must say we can debate whether this is just, but not if it was precise and planned. Where grave injustices were committed is that local party leaderships had too much autonomy from the Central committee and used it to settle old scores. I do not think this is akin to holocaust denying. If it was, I for one would not have been able to graduate from university. Students of History and Politics could not successfully argue a holocaust denial line, but I and many others are successful by taking this line on Stalin and Stalinism.

      Sweden and Norway are often characterized in popular culture as socialist. But certainly not in academic or respectable literature. There are a wide array of social provisions, but the economy is capitalist: it is privately owned by the bourgeoisie. In the case of Sweden, it is In the EU. This fact alone means it cannot be socialist. If there was public ownership it is barred from EU membership. Actual socialism: the public ownership of the means of production is outlawed in the EU.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Sorry about the lack of response, completely slipped my mind: been a busy couple of days.

      I'll begin with what you two are discussing now: things like Stalin purges and other miscarriages of justice in ultra-socialist countries like MZD's PRC and the USSR. I have very little to add to the factual discussion about Stalin's policies, as my knowledge of Russia is very basic and gained from biased sources, but I do know - as in am really quite certain - that many miscarriages of justice DUE TO ULTRA-SOCIALIST POLICIES took place in the PRC. (Note: Sorry about caps, no italics in comments.)

      These included the failed Great Leap Forward, the famines that followed, the artifacts and historical relics that were destroyed, the "reeducation" camps, and the conspiracies and manipulative politics of the Communist Party. All of these have a pattern to them: they came out of the Party having too little knowledge - of the people, of individuals, of policies, and of the flaws in the system they designed - and too much power.

      The Communist Party is not made up of omniscient, omnipotent gods. Stalin wasn't one, Mao wasn't one. The systems and policies they designed had flaws (the famines, the corruption) - but who could, or would, question them? Free speech was not allowed, as that would have upset the control the dictators (whether indvl or party) need to have to be able to change policies without consulting the people.

      It was easy for the party, and the corrupt politicians within it, to manipulate policies for their own gain, but even worse than that, often times the most well-intentioned policies had the most terrible consequences. They just couldn't know, and they weren't good enough to get it right. Individuals had no leverage, no voice, no rights. Better fed? For a while, until the corruption began to grow. Increased resources? For a while, until some stopped working and others couldn't anymore.

      Did the situation improve for the everyman? It can certainly be argued so; after all, the average standard of living increased for the everyday Chinese under Mao. But it came of a price of so much lost culture, so many lost lives, and a system that has become what it is now - easily abused by the upper-class/Communist Party (quickly becoming inextricable). Under Mao Zedong, the economy grew, but when Deng Xiao Ping opened the doors, growth exploded. And from what I see, the abuse that exists today is not from the new capitalism, but rather a relic of and made possible by the remains of the old system. So the question is not whether the "communist" revolution was better for China than sticking with the old order, but rather whether progress could have been (and can be) better achieved through a fair capitalism, without the massive loss of lives and such a precarious position for free speech and individual rights.

      Details can and will be argued over, but focusing too much on them takes away from the discussion that really needs to be had. Reeducation camps happened, gulags happened, the famines happened, the Cultural Revolution happened, and unless someone can provide some seriously impressive proof, I accept these things as fact in at least my own little Descartes world. And I have explained why I've inferred that these things are the fault of failures in socialism, both in my comments and in the hub.

      Any questions on my comment? Comments on my comment?

      I've got a bit more to say, but as it's on a slightly different point, I'll move into a new comment.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Next point: Definitions of Sweden, Norway, and the US. Comrade Joe, you're defining "socialist" as I did in the hub, right? As in everything to the left of public ownership of the means of production? In that case, I agree with your definition of Sweden, Norway, all EU countries, and of course the US as "capitalist", though some incorporate more ideas of socialism (meaning they're closer to the center, definition line) than others.

      However, I saw no specific criticisms of countries like Sweden and Norway. I view them as great economic successes, and good representations of centrist societies that are on a good path of balancing the two extremes. Like I've said before, I credit the capitalist structure for their success - and fault the socialist structure for the lower-performing, truly "socialist" countries: Cuba, the USSR, and MZD's PRC. Please compare those three to Norway, Sweden, and the US. Do you consider the socialist countries to be more successful, and if so, on what grounds? And if not, do you have a cause besides their socialist structure (which I personally believe is the cause) to fault their lower performance on?

      Alrighty. Moving on to the last response for tonight. :D

      The final thing I wanted to respond to for now was your, Comrade Joe's, account of a socialist's view of history. (This would be in the comment by Comrade Joe's beginning, "Bob - Orthodox Leninism essentially means I am an advocate of Lenin’s branch of...") I found that very interesting, and I've never seen it expressed so concisely before. Thank you for that; it gave me a good amount of material to reflect on.

      A summary of my response is basically that I don't agree with the Marx view of history. From the very beginning, I think that my inferences and bases are just a bit different. In fact, when I have time - this weekend perhaps - I will write a hub detailing my view of history, which in the end concludes as a defense of capitalism. Because I'm unfamiliar with the work of Marx and Lenin, and because I think differences will be many and subtle, I think it would be best if I simply wrote out my view and had others more familiar with Marx's theories test mine. Ha, I just equated myself to Karl Marx. I admit, modesty does not naturally feature among my countless other admirable virtues. :D

      Please feel free to continue the discussion along lines besides the historical one (criticisms and responses on my latest responses are very welcome) until I get the time to put up my historical viewpoint. Thank you for the great comments, Comrade Joe and My Esoteric!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      But Bob, the USSR wasn't a true socialist state, it was a travesty based on capitalism rather than socialism.

      It was a bureaucratically planned economy with absolutely no worker control in it.

    • Comrade Joe profile image

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      I have praise for Sweden and Norway. They are as close to a civilized capitalism as is likely achievable. There are a few things to consider though. Firstly, not every country can be Sweden or Norway. Much like the internal economy has owners and workers, so too is the relationship replicated between countries. As a people like the Swedes gain more social benefits and better working conditions, this is facilitated by exploitation being pushed out to developing countries. Capitalism could not maintain itself if the favourable conditions enjoyed by the Swedes were shared by all. It can only happen by being underwritten by the super-exploitation found in Africa or Latin America. If these workers demanded the same conditions capitalism would implode from the inability to provide decent conditions for all as well as maintain profits for the bourgeoisie. It’s also the case that as their economies are vulnerable to market fluctuations, so to are their social systems.

      “Lower performance” is not so clear cut. For instance, if we concentrate on the Soviet Union, growth was higher than the west in general, it did not go into recession (even during the great depression the economy grew rapidly), it had full employment, sent man into space etc.

      But if we want to compare why is Cuba poorer than Norway, the first thing to note is we are comparing apples and oranges. It would be more apt to compare Cuba to a country in similar conditions of development (when the revolution happened), say a Haiti. By 1959 (Cuban Revolution), Norway was already a fully developed economy. Cuba had been a US and before that a Spanish colony. When the Norwegian economy was developing Norway, the Cuban economy was developing the United States or Spain (Cuba‘s super-exploitation facilitated improvements in the life‘s of US workers). Where Norway had state of the art technology, Cuba depended on primitive agricultural techniques. It would be like if you and I ran a marathon, you start at the start point and I start with only 2 miles of the course remaining. Of course I am going to win the race, not because I am the better runner or trained harder but because we have completely different starting points.

      It is for similar reasons the USSR’s performance is all the more astounding. Under Stalin they had the fastest industrialization of any country in history. But that was all upset by Hitler’s invasion, factories, dams, airports, train tracks, roads and much else were all destroyed. So much work was undone and the country had to be re-built again, and it was built again and became a superpower regardless. It somehow managed to give its opponents a head start in the marathon and still overtake them.

      I will look forward to your hub.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Hi, John. Thanks for stopping by.

      Though like I've said before I'm not well versed in the specifics of the USSR, from my basic knowledge, you're completely correct. It was a travesty, and at the time of Stalin (which I'm assuming is what you're referring to) it did look a lot like a very badly designed capitalism.

      However, it seems to me that the "travesty" of Stalin's USSR cannot be blamed on not going far enough to the left, but rather too far to the left. Hear me out. In order to demonstrate my reasoning, I'm going to use MZD's PRC as an example, something I'm more knowledgeable about.

      In the beginning, the Communist Party was open (ish). The motives were sincere, even if the reasoning and the policies were very, very off. (see a couple of the above comments.) The debates were published, the ideas were popular.

      But then a group of really quite intelligent indvls, of course including Mao's officials, began implementing policies that were first just not correct, like the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward, but then some that were also conciously selfish. Corruption spread throughout the party, which by that time had incredible power due to its probably well-intentioned propaganda and "reeducation".

      That basically brings us to today. Deng Xiao Ping opens the doors because China's progress was not keeping up, or indeed growing that much at all. This I blame on the failed policies of the Party, which were made possible by socialism. Then businesses began to make money, and in trying to make more money where do they go? The corrupt officials of the party, which now make up both Big Business and Big Brother. I think you see where I'm going with this.

      From what I've read, this was basically the case in the USSR as well. The officials had too much power, indvls had too little leverage, and the whole system was simply unsustainable. If there's any ambiguity or fallacies in my response, please feel free to question or comment.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Comrade Joe - 

      Sorry for the delay in response - This goes to you as well, John. At this rate, I'm only going to get my history hub done after the US elections pass. Sigh... :D

      Thank you for clarifying your view on Norway and Sweden. If my understanding is correct, you basically attribute Scandinavia's high performance to its ability to push low wages and 

      You said, "Capitalism could not maintain itself if the favorable conditions enjoyed by the Swedes were shared by all." Though in the context of your previous comment you may have been referring to "relatively", I think it's also a very interesting point if we look at it as referring to resources, wealth, and just general quality of life. 

      I disagree with that; I think that is sustainable in a capitalism, though perhaps maybe not right now. We'd have to begin in indvl countries - let's take Cuba. (I don't believe Cuba can reach the progress required under socialism; stick with me.) 

      Basically, a constitution guaranteeing/explicitly expressing human civic rights would have to be established (along with laws), elected representative gov with limited terms and at least 2 parties likewise, then public education (what's true is what's taught) that includes political science, a safety net, and a ladder of opportunity that allows anyone born anywhere to get the best of what society has to offer through contributing to progress. 

      Please feel free to ask about why any and all of those are necessary.

      And no, I did not purposely follow US history; they just happened to have done it mostly right. 

      With all of that implemented and stable, I see no reason why any indvl nation can't be as successful as Norway and Sweden - without exploiting another nation. If where I'm going is still unclear, read on. 

      I think, Comrade Joe, that you and socialism don't understand where socialism fails. It impedes progress, in a multitude of ways (lack of incentive to work, misguided policies that can't be adjusted until too late, bureaucrats suffocating indvl freedom, etc.), some of which can be solved by moving towards the middle, and some of which can only be solved by becoming capitalism. 

      And growth IS the goal, because it gets us closer to our ultimate goal, which should be the happiness of everyone. Right now, there are not enough resources for very one to have whatever they need/want, so we need to CREATE more resources, through advancing technology (+art). I've done a brief sketch of how capitalism can do that in a stable, fair manner, and I welcome any criticisms pointing to how it couldn't. 

      I haven't seen any plan that doesn't have fatal flaws from socialism. Can any readers present one, using the def given in the hub? (Everything to the left of public ownership of the means of production. And please actually read the hub and the comments to check for flaws before posting.) Please, please post if you've got one, though be warned that I will try to poke everything I've got at it.

      ... So many points I'd like to elaborate on... Please feel free to comment and question; no need to do them all at once!

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      Kelvinator 4 years ago

      I have heard about how capitalism can allow large corporations to set up a monopoly, what is an example of this happening? When has a corporation taken complete control of a market and maintained that control? If a corp did manage to own a market, the second it becomes inefficient and uses its monopolization to oppress the market wouldn't someone else see this as an opportunity to produce whatever the product is more efficiently thus demonopolizing the market and reinstating competition?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      First of all, a monopoly does not entail the monopolisers having 100% of the market, a very large share will do it.

      Bearing that in mind look at Microsoft to answer the rest of your questions.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Others are Standard Oil, AT&T (the original one), and many other ones the government broke up back in the early 1900s. You also have oligopolies where very few large companies control the market; Ford, GM, and Chrysler being the most famous for decades, until the invasion from the East.

      The main barrier to your model, Kelvinator, is the cost to enter a monopolized market is the cost to enter it. Once monopolized, the monopoloy uses unfair pricing practices (if they are nice) to make it unprofitable for competitors to spend the huge sums necessary even to produce the first unit.

      In Microsoft's case, it is what the gov't believes is unfair business practices, because the cost of entry into that market is low, where Microsoft, through contracts, pricing, and the integration of their software with major computer manufacturers at point-of-sale made it near impossible for a competitor to find a marketplace to sell their product. Microsoft had basically bought up exclusive rights to sell their operating system in America. That is why Congress had to pass laws specifically designed to stop Microsoft from doing some of these things (conservatives hated this).

      Your approach to free-market still works in some industries, mainly agriculture and other markets where the products are undifferentiated, the cost of entry is low and there aren't ways to monopolize distribution or production, the cost to the consumer to switch is low (I can't change my company from Microsoft now, I have too much invested in it), and a few more things.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      I'd challenge your example of agriculture as a free market Myesoteric, what about GM food and seed?

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      GM food and seed? Not sure what that is.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Sorry, genetically modified. Mostly so that they can "trace" their seed and charge for use. Unfortunately the marker moves with the pollination meaning that if you grow your organic crop close to a GM seed crop, your seed will then carry the marker and you will be liable to agri-business for royalties on your own seed!

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I have heard of genetically modified of course, although not be the initials, but that particular use is brand new to me; how interesting.

      So your saying if a farmer grows crops near somebody growing GM crops of the same species, then natural pollination due to weather will occur over time in the non-GMs farmers field from that of the GMs farmers field and the latter wants royalties as a result. Seems to me the former ought to sue for trespass, lol.

      Is it the pollination the agri-business is wanting royaties from or the marked progeny?

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Hi Kelvinator. I second John and My Esoteric's responses, especially the first response by MyE. The cost of entrance and similar market manipulation tactics are what make monopolies dangerous and potentially destabilizing. Thanks for stopping by!

      And thank you to John and My Esoteric for the responses, always good to hear from you.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      The marked progeny My Esoteric.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Sounds like great fodder for court battles. How does the agri-bus prove it is seed the next door farmer bought and the farmer prove it isn't trespassing seed from his neighbor.

      Then what if the next door farmer starts GM his grop with his own marker and it pollinates the others field? My, my.

      Anyway, this is a case where a business with particular product as the ability to misuse it to drive competitors out of the market, creating monopolies, even in industries once thought to be the bastions of free market.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      I know it's been over a month, but in re-reading Comrade Joe's post from 6 weeks ago I just found another point that I'd like to respond to. (Posted in the comment by Comrade Joe that begins: "I have praise for Sweden and Norway...")

      In the first paragraph of that comment, it's stated that Norway (and all successful capitalist countries) have gained their wealth not due to their systems being better (ex. more sustainable, more efficient, etc.) but due to exploiting other countries, especially in Asia and South America. That's certainly partially true, as from my knowledge much of the rapidness of many countries' growth has resulted from taking advantage of the easy exploitation possible in developing countries.

      However, the comment said, "Capitalism could not maintain itself if the favorable conditions enjoyed by the Swedes were shared by all." I think this is probably right about true at this point, as our global market agriculture and technology production is only producing for the countries that have reached the possibility of demand. As countries develop (following the path to a stable capitalism, as explained in previous comments and the hub), I see no reason why wealth would become unsustainable; we would have more than enough potential to produce "luxury" goods for the entire population if more countries were able to participate in advancing technology and the global economy.

      It's been quite a while, so I may have lost some threads from our conversation, Comrade Joe. Do you mean to say that socialist nations would be able to increase overall wealth faster than capitalism can, in a way that's stable in the long term? I can't think of a way it could - which basically summarizes why I'm a capitalist.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Bob, capitalism does not aim to increase overall wealth. Its aim is to place the worlds resources in the hands of a select few at the expense of the many.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I would argue that "capitalism", per se, doesn't have an agenda, it is the, dare I say, "natural" or "Darwinian" economic system. Most other economic systems are developed to overcome problems that occur when capitalism is allowed to progress without restraint which, if left to do so, over time morphs into monopolies and oligarchies; definitely non-capitalistic formations.

      Capitalism, well regulated, is historically the most successful of all economic systems. Capitalism, unregulated, is one of the most destructive.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      John and MyE - Like MyE just posted, from what I know capitalism doesn't aim to do anything, as it is the "natural" system. Or rather, its system didn't come into being consciously - it was the result of thousands of years (more, actually) of trial and error. Bear with me as I go on a tangent.

      Empires rose and empires fell, as forms of what today would be classified as capitalism were implemented around the world, and this pattern (wealth being built up through a form of cooperation, leaders emerging, leaders abusing power, the majority rising up when it became too much) likely would have continued, if not for the invention of democracy. Athens, of course, had a form of it, but it was too unwieldy and had little to no protection of minority rights. No, I'm talking about Enlightenment ideas and the beginnings of the USA, specifically its incredible Constitution. I am American, but I'm no rabid ultra-patriot - my admiration for the Constitution is not the result of any nationalist brainwashing.

      Like MyE said, when well-regulated, capitalism is historically the most successful of all economic systems. The stable (for many reasons, see above comments and hub) representative democracy with a Bill of Rights to protect minorities worked, because it placed the power where it belonged, in the hands of the people. Fantastic. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think anyone is arguing for a return to imperialism.

      So operating within this frame, natural capitalism continued. Its natural problems, namely the wealth gap growing, became noticeable again. But with the spread of power, to condense a century or so, a solution was happened upon - the safety net and the ladder of opportunity. These would include things like education, roads, subsidies, and healthcare, and of course the actual "safety net". All of these contribute to allowing the "American Dream" (not saying America invented the idea, just that it implemented it first), that anyone born anywhere can rise to the highest society has to offer. This keeps society stable and fair, with modern America (I'm talking 50s) proving that fair regulation by the majority (the gov) can keep this alive while not infringing on indvl rights. I'm not saying that we're completely there - we're not - but I am saying that this system is possible.

      All the positives of capitalism (innovation, growth through competition, protection of indvl rights through private property [see hub and comments}) can be preserved as we fix the negatives (monopolizing, gov fixing, the wealth gap) through fair regulation. I believe this is possible; if anyone can provide any reasons why it wouldn't be, please post a comment.

      If I continued through history, I would reach Marx and the system he fathered as a solution to capitalism. I personally think it was full of good ideas and insights, but it was born with fatal flaws - which takes us back to the body of the hub.

      Alrighty, then. This comment was seriously lengthy and unwieldy, and it just reminded that my capitalism through history hub is still dozing in its unfinished state. Bah. :) I think that hub would make my view of capitalism a bit more clear, and I'll publish it as soon as I can find the time. For now, @John, I'll just summarize that I think the socialist view of capitalism is that it is a "system" that arose from the strong enslaving, and later brainwashing, the weak. I don't think so.

      I view it as the evolution of a "system" that arose out of the prehistoric invention of collaboration (you catch fish, I gather nuts, we both get more to eat). Everything that we now know about capitalism was from study, like the natural sciences and philosophy. Unlike socialism or communism, capitalism was not invented by man - it was created through trial and error, and we have finally reached a time where we can understand the parts that work and fix the parts that don't.

      Damn, that's a long comment. Thanks for bearing with me!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Actually Bob, despite your best efforts to give capitalism a long heritage is has only been around for a few hundred years.

      You are confusing commerce with capitalism.

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      jaydee 4 years ago

      Actually John, rooted from thousand years' coomerce is exactly why captalism is able to grow better, it's a evolution not revolution. And it's more fitting into human/animal nature which is something you cannot change easily.

      Arguablly, "to place the worlds resources in the hands of a select few at the expense of the many" is exactly the nature that all animals are born with. It's human being, with the wisdom of putting it under regulations, that is able to use this "animal instinct" to drvie competition, innovation, efficiency in order to develop the human society into today's achievement.

      Denying or trying to kill this instinct will not work, as proven by Russia, China and today's North Korea. But certainly we can argue what's the best way to improve the current regulations/society so that the achievement(which resulted from such "eveil instinct") can be shared by more people.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      But Russia, China and North Korea are capitalist countries.

      In the whole history of mankind there has never been a truly socialist country.

      As for capitalism evolving from commerce, no commerce still exists alongside capitalism, over shadowed maybe but still there.

      And are you really proud of capitalisms achievements, thousands starving to death every day or dying for want of cheap medicine that is just a little too expensive for the needy?

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      What private citizen in North Korea own private property (real estate)? Same in the Soviet Union and China, before say 1985?

      And John, you apparently missed the point of the above conversation. Even unregulated capitalism doesn't lead to the results you cite, alth0ugh it will lead to a lot more people finding themselves in need of cheap medicine. The availability of cheap medicine, and all of the other things your example is standing in for, is a function of the largess of the government, or lack thereof.

      The government in America prior to the Great Depression had no problem letting its citizens wither on the vine; conservative thinking is that it is not the governments job to help the People. After the Great Depression, that attitude changed and government started trying to help its citizens. All the while capitalism chugs merrily along.

      What is at issue is whether capitalism remains unregulated, and therefore increases the cohort of needy, or to regulate it, which suppresses that unwanted side effect of a free market. The status of private property doesn't need to be changed in order to have a fair free-market system.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @John - Thanks for your response. My comment was going through the history of civilization in general, which I thought was important to do as my view of history seems to differ slightly from many socialists. Sorry for the confusion.

      Like MyE said, I think it's not important whether we call it commerce or capitalism as long as we agree that "capitalism" naturally evolved, and worked. Private ownership of the means of production is the default system, as that's what has been around for quite a while now. While we only applied the label retrospectively, almost all civilizations after the advent of agriculture can be categorized as "capitalist".

      As mentioned previously, these capitalist civilizations rose and fell throughout the ages. Quite recently, historically speaking, several theoretical solutions have been presented and implemented to try to create a truly stable society. Among these ideas are socialism and regulations for capitalism. Unless you disagree, I would say that we are respectively defending one of those two solutions as the best one.

      Your latest comment concludes, "And are you really proud of capitalism's achievements, thousands starving to death every day or dying for want of cheap medicine that is just a little too expensive for the needy?" I do not think today's examples of capitalism are perfect. I do think that the evolution of regulation and recognized rights have proved that it's a workable system, and they have potential that no socialist system could have.

      I also agree with MyE in that capitalism is at least able to create cheap medicines. As said in the hub and in previous comments, socialism eventually (for reasons of instability, lack of indvl rights, and power imbalances - see MZD's PRC and the USSR, whose "capitalist" abuses were made possible by the socialist system that preceded them) negatively affects both innovation and consequentially progress. A fair free-market system, a capitalist society, allows growth and innovation (more resources for everyone) while maintaining a stable quality of life for everyone, without the negative effects of socialism.

      Do you, @John, believe a fair capitalism is not possible? Or just that socialism's flaws (as discussed so far) can be corrected to create a system that would be superior to a capitalist one? I have never been able to find a solution to the socialist flaws that I've mentioned, nor have I ever seen any historical examples of socialism working in the long term.

      Thank you, jaydee and MyE, for your insightful comments. I second them both. jaydee, I appreciate your statement on capitalism being more fitting for human nature. This is exactly correct - not because human beings are greedy and selfish, but because we work better when we work together, but are different enough that we need freedom. Capitalism also harnesses our competitive/job specialized natures and uses that beneficially to increase resources for society as a whole.

      And as a note, thank you to everyone who has commented so far! You've made this into a vibrant and thought-provoking discussion.

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      jaydee 4 years ago

      John, I meant Russia and China before their reform. But since you mentioned China as capitalism, I will just use it as a good example to compare.

      I was born in China in 1965 and was educated since young that capitalism is the worst thing in the world. "every penny of profit earned by capitalist coated with blood", said Karl Max. So the great Communist Party came to rescue us by killing all bloody capitalists and forbid any private ownership of property. Everything belonged to the country. As a result of lost interest and low productivity, 10-12 million people starved to death in 1958. (if you don't believe me, see the following link with a Chinese translator: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6769281001014l1i.ht...

      Even in 1988, 10 years after China started the current reform to allow capitalism, my monthly salary as a fresh graduate was only US$10. Only 30 years passed by, now China is the 2nd largest economy in the world, and Beijing becomes one of the most expensive housing city in the world($1000 per square feet). Nowadays, there are still lots of poor people in China, but difinitely very very few people, if any, is staved to death, let alone everyday.

      I agree with Bob and My E. that regulation/policy is important. I am not proud of all human nature, just as I am not proud of eating animals everyday. But trying to establish a society that against human nature will not work. Capitalism is not perfect and subject to a lot of improvement, but it is so far the best among all human trials. It's difinitely not just co-incidence that all very developed countries are capitalist countries. China is the most recent and lively example of how powerful capitalism can change a society.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Bravo Jaydee!!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      But Jaydee,people still insist that China is a communist country and cite the working conditions as proof of this! Yet you tell me that they re embraced capitalism in 1978!

      The world is bigger than China, many still starve to death in such places as Africa.

    • profile image

      jaydee 4 years ago

      Yes. Deng Xiaoping started reform to embrace captalism in 1978. China's political is still one party system, but economy is a market economy and full capitalism.

      So do you want Africa country to become like U.S., China now, or China in 1958 or North Korea now?

      Africa people starve to death is not because of capitalism, but many reasons. Trying to link that with capitalism is exactly the same as when the Chinese Communist Party told me in 1970 that all the poverty in China was caused by the exploration of capitalists so killing them should solve all the problems.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you for sharing your personal expertise, jaydee - your experience adds a great deal. I think that you're right on point. Nothing additional to add to your comment.

      I'd like to especially emphasize the last paragraph in your latest comment: Many Africans still starve or are close to starving and this IS due in large part to broken political systems, but that doesn't show any evidence against a fair capitalism. I second jaydee - it is too much to be a coincidence that all developed, stable nations are capitalist.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      So are many unstable and underdeveloped nations!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Yes, but the point is that while capitalism has eventually resulted in successes, socialism has no examples of working in the long term. I don't think anyone disagrees that the regulations of all nations, including capitalist ones, are works in progress, or that if capitalism is badly regulated (or left to its own devices) that it can do a great deal of damage.

      The reason I defend capitalism is that I believe that if well-regulated (with something to prevent growth in wealth gaps, explicit protection for minority rights, etc.), it has the potential to grow into a truly fair, stable, and happy society. As I've said before, I don't think socialism has the capacity to do that. I'm slightly uncertain of your position: do you think that socialism DOES have the potential to be as stable, fair, and happy as capitalism? Or do you think that capitalism is unable to do as I've claimed, be fair/happy/stable?

      My response to the first would be the flaws I've pointed out in the hub and in previous comments, and my response to the second would be to ask for elaboration. Please feel free to question anything that I may have stated unclearly.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Of course there are no examples of socialism working in the long term, it hasn't been tried on a national scale anywhere yet.

      By its very nature capitalism is incapable of being fair/happy/stable for every man. It depends on success for there being many have nots, out numbering the haves which is why capitalism has to distort socialism to such ridiculous lengths and try to convince everybody that they are all much better off if the few have plenty and the rest the crumbs from their table..

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Forgive me for addressing your last point first, but I think ultimately it will make my entire response more cohesive. Please bear with me.

      Correct me if I'm mistaken, but what I gathered of your view of capitalism is that you view it as the strong (talented, lucky, etc.) manipulating society to take from the weak in order to benefit themselves. I don't believe this is the case.

      A "wealth gap" (contribute according to your own ability, reward those who contribute more to the progress of society as a whole) is intentional and beneficial, and I believe most moderate socialists agree with that. This is not a selfish manipulation by the "upper-class", but the very foundation of civilization from the very first days.

      Marx agrees with me (or more modestly, I agree with Marx!) that the beginnings of human civilization came when humans found out that collaboration gets more food for everyone. I’m good at gathering, you’re good at hunting – if I give you some of the food I gather you can hunt more, and if you give me a portion of your hunted meat you’ll still have more than you would have had otherwise. Very win-win.

      Where I (kind-of) diverge from Marx is after that. From what I know of his theory of history (and my knowledge is basic, so correct me), he says the next segments of history are defined by the rise and fall of empires due to upper classes developing, trying to hold on to their own positions through manipulation, and eventually over-reaching and being trampled by the everymen they had oppressed for so long. I noted this as a flaw in capitalism (see “Why both extremes fail”), and essentially agreed with it – kind of.

      I think his analysis of this aspect of history is too simplistic. He failed to recognize that this abuse of power was only made possible by a hoarding of knowledge by a few outlying (yes, outlying) materialistic talents (who manipulated society and necessitated their tactics for any possible measure of success), and he failed to take into account philosophically defined altruism as a possible aspect of a solution. I think that he failed to realize the flaws in his own solution, and that there is a better solution that can still remain essentially capitalist, allowing it to keep all of capitalism’s positives. As said in the body of the hub, there are solutions to capitalism’s problems.

      Move towards the center. Wealth distribution – income tax, sales tax (on non-necessities), estate tax. Break monopolies. A safety net and a ladder of opportunity – to allow anyone born anywhere to get to the top. Public education. Available healthcare. Individual rights. All of these things are possible within a capitalist democracy, because I maintain as a base belief that if we know and think about it, humans are happier – for a multitude of reasons - when others are as well.

      This solution, along with the good things that have maintained forms of “capitalism” throughout human history (encouraging innovation, competition to improve products, motivation), allows a fair capitalism to be perfectly possible. This fair capitalism has a “wealth gap”, not to unfairly benefit those on top, but to reward those who give the most. This fair capitalism is democratic but with “self-evident” individual rights explicitly stated in a lawful constitution, allowing those designing polices to always be held accountable to those affected. This is the capitalism I’m defending, not violent African empires or feudalism from the Dark Ages.

      I believe that it addresses all the problems that socialism tried to solve, without creating the new problems that socialism did (See hub and comments). Socialism and communism were bold solutions to the growing wealth gap and the violent cycle of falling and rising empires, but they failed to take into account the positives in capitalism, what allowed it work – it encouraged progress, and a democratic gov that could be held accountable to the people (not long-term possible in socialism, see above comments) could be implemented.

      And now in addressing your first point, I would offer two examples: the early USSR and, as mentioned by jaydee, the pre-1978 PRC. Both began socialist: the means of production (and much more) went to the government, which was not established as transparent nor accountable to the people. (Note: Transparent at first, quickly clouded.) What resulted? We’ve already covered that ground, in previous comments.

      Please consider the view I've presented on capitalism - I've often thought that this divide in base views between many capitalists and socialists is likely to blame for a lack of conclusions. A repost of my question from my previous comment: Can the flaws of socialism be fixed to make it better than capitalism, and are there any flaws in capitalism that cannot be addressed? I’ve answered that question as best as I’m able, and I’ve come to the conclusion that capitalism is the best system to continue progress (till we reach a point of sufficient resources for all wants). Now I pose it to you – and of course to discussion in general. If any found, please point out any fallacies or ambiguity in my reasoning.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Bob, I am guessing you don't consider any part of Europe a success then; even when they were beating the pants off the U.S.?

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      Sanxuary 4 years ago

      The problem is Capitalism is not working. Even worst a Republic where all mandates are purchased insures it no longer works either. I am no socialist and have no desire to be one but does it really take ordinary people creating Unions to have a voice in the work place? Does it take environmental groups and massive law suits because people have died to even acknowledge a problem. Does it take 8 trillion dollars to bail out big business and banks? When you pay people more then enough to live they buy more goods and company’s profit. That is Capitalism and it has failed and balance is a long way from being restored. Fair taxes, real environmental policies and paying people real wages is the only way forward. Remember when companies provided health care? Remember when we could afford it? Remember sound economic policies that did not create trillion dollars bail outs. What is happening now is not Socialism its just a program where the Capitalist failed to provide for ordinary people. The ordinary people will continue to fight for everything they deserve and Capitalism can not provide.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I always find it interesting in arguments that people take a binary approach to things; capitalism works, capitalism doesn't work; socialism never works, oh yes it always works; communism always fails. Such absolutes, no room for different flavors of capitalism, socialism, or communism; or that they operate differently in different environments.

      All three systems fail in certain circumstances, and fail badly when the regulatory, governmental, and economic environment feed each system's weakspots. None of the systems have shown themselves to be particularly good at innovation in peacetime, but capitalism seems to excel in wartime with communism bringing up the rear.

      I haven't looked but I will bet you that over the very long-term prior to the 1930s, socialist economies were more stable in peacetime than the laissez-faire American capitalist economy, meaning that when the American economy was suffering recessions every 5 - 6 years, I doubt the socialist economies were much less volatile (of course it may be hard to tell since they were at war every 5 - 6 years it seemed.)

      In my opinion regulated capitalism works fine and is better than a socialist economy; not saying a well run socialist economy is bad, just not as good. On the other hand, an unregulated capitalist economy will fail in time because the boom-bust cycle keeps the economy unstable and the built-in inequality will destroy itself and turn into a monoplostic economy. I am not sure what a poorly run socialist economic system would turn into, but I doubt it would be good.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @MyE - Sorry for missing your comment. No, I definitely do consider parts of Europe very successful - so successful in fact, that I would say that Scandinavia is probably one of the best examples of capitalism today. Please don't press me on my use of "one of the best"! :)

      I won't get into which capitalist system is the best, or what specific policies are arguably better, in this comment section - not on the capitalism vs socialism topic. If pressed, I might admit that Scandinavia has a lot that the US should, but doesn't (healthcare, transparency, public ed, a social net). I'll leave it at that for now, though, unless you think it adds something to discuss.

      Why do you ask?

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Sanxtuary - Completely agreed on all the problems you've pointed out. We have a long way to go in America, and I'm positive it won't be easy. I'm hopeful, however, that we can eventually get to sound policies that can keep all of the positives of a free market while mending the flaws with fair regulation. Thank you for your comment.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      MyE - Thanks for your fantastic response. I think you're spot-on all the way through, but especially in your last two paragraphs.

      I can completely agree with your conclusion - I have nothing significant to add, but I like it enough that I want to repost it.

      My Esoteric: "In my opinion regulated capitalism works fine and is better than a socialist economy; not saying a well run socialist economy is bad, just not as good. On the other hand, an unregulated capitalist economy will fail in time because the boom-bust cycle keeps the economy unstable and the built-in inequality will destroy itself and turn into a monoplostic economy. I am not sure what a poorly run socialist economic system would turn into, but I doubt it would be good."

      Fantastic. Thank you, My Esoteric!

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      Let me throw in the idea of a mixed economy, one where the basic utilities, power, water, transport, telecoms and so forth are socialised, and all other production is left in private hands.

      It worked for many decades in the UK and only ended when capitalist greed took it all away. It stills works in Sweden.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      The truth be told, having now experienced both in the US, being old has its advantages sometimes, I agree, sort of. While utilities, transportation, telecommunications, and health care were not publicly owned, they were highly regulated and given local monopolies where the state or feds basically set the profit margin and/or prices.

      Companies were incentivized to cut costs in some cases because that meant higher actual profits and maybe even margins. Companies innovated, look at the airline industry prior to 1980, and where they competed, such as airlines, they competed via service rather than price.

      Now, as much as it pains me, I think the utilities need to go back to that system. Health care should return to the pre-1980 structure as well as the profit-motive should never have been allowed to compete with the deliverance of quality care.

      As much as I hate being treated like cattle, I do like the lower airline prices and it does have an overall positive effect on the economy through the mixing of markets brought on by a lot of non-business travel. Unlike utilities and health care, I can choose to fly or not; in fact, when I go to Hot Springs, AR from Keystone Heights, FL; I drive, rather than fly the 800 miles; the same with telecommunications, except for the telecommumications network that goes on behind the scenes, that needs, for national security purposes, to be pretty well regulated.

      Lastly, I think a top executive from one of the telecommunications giants should be picked at random on a monthly basis and put in a public stockade with a sign hung over his or her head saying "I am the Asshole who doesn't care about you." until they learn to improve customer service and answer their damned telephone.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      While technically it wouldn't be a "mixed" economy, as most ownership would still be private, you could achieve the benefits of socialized utilities through what MyE has mentioned, tight regulations. The benefit of that versus actual public ownership would be, quoting MyE, that the companies could innovate and compete, though "via service rather than price." Not to mention the transparency that would need to be present for public ownership to even work at its best.

      My Esoteric, never stop writing. While I could question your healthcare statement, that's not really on topic with this hub. In my opinion, spot-on with everything else. Also, a handshake and a fist bump for the stockade suggestion! I spent 40 minutes a couple of days ago listening to that damn hold music.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      Bob, you seem to imply that publicly owned companies can not innovate and compete! I hope I've got that wrong.

      In the days when British Telecom was a publicly owned company it was a world leader in the telecoms industry and the government prevented it from charging a realistic low price for its services because they recognised that no privately owned company could compete.

      British Telecom went on to be privatised and is no longer a world leader or a particularly profitable company.

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      wba108@yahoo.com 4 years ago from upstate, NY

      A well thought out and articulated Hub! I agree with much of what you've said about Socialism, that it threatens to individual liberties and fails to provide adequate incentives to produce what society needs.

      I'm not entirely with you about capitalism needing a progressive tax system to keep the wealthy from controlling society but it has given me some things to think on.

      In America I see the separation of power, limited government, the rule of law and christian values as the primary safeguards to a government dominated by any group. When you have free markets, I believe that you'll create many wealthy people that have a wide spectrum of interests and therefore are unlikely to form into a dominating group. When governments excessively intrude into the private sector, I feel this creates an envirnoment of corruption and collusion that causes the instance of a wealthy group dominating the government.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      John - I wouldn't say that publicly owned companies can't or don't innovate, but I would claim that private enterprises have proved themselves more consistent in innovation and competition. Not as in proportionally, as many private companies fail, but as in producing new technologies and ideas consistently over time.

      Some companies fade out, new ones come in. That allows progress, as long as we have a security net so people aren't afraid to take some risks. Again, not to mention the transparency that would be needed to prevent something like what is quickly becoming a possibility for China, a gov run for profit monopoly.

      That being said, I don't see any problems with state regulations (vs state run competition).

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you, wba108. I do think a progressive tax system is necessary and fair, and in fact I think that would be a good subject for a hub. Hmm. It would likely be quite a while till I could find time to write one. There are several fantastic left-leaning hubbers on this site (I can think of Josak, My Esoteric, and John Holden from this comment section) that might have articles on it, if you're interested.

      I certainly support the separation of powers and limited gov, but I do think fair regulation (monopoly breaking, minimum wage, etc.) is a huge part of a fair capitalism. Exactly what those regulations should be might be a discussion for somewhere somewhere. Also, I'm not Christian, but if what you mean by Christian values are empathy, compassion, tolerance, and altruism, among others of course, I also view them as fundamentally important. Thanks for stopping by!

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Nor am I Christian, but nevertheless hold to those values Bob lists; values a society must live by. I also offer, the politicians we elect over time are simply a reflection of the character of those who voted them into office and the lack of caring about America by those who didn't vote at all.

      Also, I would assert that, in America, Congress abhors making regulations unless forced to by corruption or abuse of liberty of others, mainly business. Up until the 1940s, Congress made very few regulations that interfered with the course of business and look what it bought us: child labor; denuded forests; 25 major economic recessions and several smaller ones in 150 years; a dead Lake Erie, emblematic of serious polution of most of our water and waterways; company stores and subsistance wages; disappearing San Gabriel mountains right in front of my eyes in the 1950s due to air pollution; products that kill or maim; poisoned ground like Love Canal; Enrons and their ilk; predatory lending; ..........................

      Most of this occurs in an environment WBA believes is best for us where gov't is disengaged from caring about the people who hired it to govern them; where all the federal gov't is supposed to provide is a common defense and as little interstate commerce regulation as possible.

      It was only when the federal government started caring did: slavery end; people started getting paid a wage with which they might be able to afford a roof and a tiny bit of food; cleaned up the environment to a remarkable degree; put a clamp on major recessions, until 2008 of course after America reverted back to WBA's philosophy of the 1800s.

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      Adam Wilson 4 years ago

      A common misconception that I have seen in a number of posts is that Communism must always be "Stalinist". Communism, in principle, is a global society in which money does not exist, material equality is absolute, and the means of production are collectively owned in a decentralised, grassroots democracy. One of the great illusions of the past century was that the USSR was communist. This it certainly was not, and neither was it "Socialist".

      Socialism is, in priciple, a political-economical system in which the means of production (mines, factories, etc) are collectively owned, but through a centralised state mechanism which is democratic through a hierarchy. The purpose of socialism is to lead on to communism. The purpose of "working" communism is to lead on to "workless" communism; a system in which, through technological advance or otherwise, no work is required for survival. Complete material equality and freedom from want will have then been achieved.

      The USSR under Stalin was simply a fascist, authoritarian state, in which the "vanguard revolutionary party" described by the Bolsheviks became the new bouergoisie.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      You just about said it all there Adam.

      Of course they won't listen, they'll insist that their story is the correct one.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Adam Wilson - Agreed. While some of the recent discussion has gotten into statistical examples and historical arguments, especially the PRC and the USSR, the article itself tries to avoid any specific historical/stats arguments in drawing its conclusion. This was done on purpose, in order to avoid the disagreements over specific figures or facts that are close to unresolvable.

      Thank you for your succinct description, and I think it sums up Marxist socialism and communism more concisely than any summary I've seen before. Sincere thanks. I'm somewhat familiar with the basics of Marxist theory, and I did my best to respond to and address what I think are the flaws in both socialism and communism - and by extension, Marxist theory.

      As stated in the article, I think that in both principle and practice socialism - defined, as you've stated, as societies where the means of production are publicly owned - has proven to be ultimately unstable and unworkable. My reasons are stated in the article and are elaborated on in previous comments.

      Thank you for your concise comment, and please feel free to respond or comment on any flaws you see with my arguments or viewpoints. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @John Holden - No disrespect intended, but I'll give a common American West Coast suggestion: Chill.

      As I've replied to Adam Wilson, I have zero disagreements with his comment, either historical or Marxist definition-wise. Nor have I (at least intentionally) said anything contradicting his explanations in the article nor in previous comments. As I've said before, I'm no expert on the USSR or Marxist theory, but his summary seems perfectly consistent with what I've been operating on so far.

      If you've seen any fallacious figure-throwing or historical examples, please feel free to respond with them. It isn't my goal to trample socialism to the dust or show it as a brainwashing, soulless ideology that seeks to give all power to an evil government through a conspiracy of false equality - emphasis on isn't. In fact, I see it as a revolutionary theory that spawned many ideas that should endure - just not quite right, for the reasons stated in the article.

      Also, while it is fascinating and supremely important to prod real world examples, specific figures and even facts - especially about controversial subjects like political theory - are of course difficult to know the truth of. That's why I've done my best in this article to draw my conclusion without using specific examples as a backbone.

      Thank you for your many thought provoking comments; hope to continue seeing you around in these political discussions.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      Bob, I'm cool. My comment was not aimed at your hub, rather the right in general who seem to love Stalin as an example of why socialism doesn't work, hoping that if they say it loud enough and often enough we won't realise that Stalin was more capitalist than socialist.

      My own opinion is that no one political ideology can serve all of mankind well and what is needed is a mixture, some socialism, some capitalism without the extremes of either.

      Many of the things that are regarded as socialism were in fact introduced by philanthropic capitalists, liberals if you like.

      At the moment we seem to be suffering extreme capitalism!

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Hey, John, sorry for the delay in response.

      Good to hear, and I figured you were a cool dude. I am 100% with you on a centrist approach - it isn't doing things by halves, it's taking the best of both worlds. Like I said in the hub, I'm just barely on the right of the definition line, with a little gray area on means of production ownership for certain industries.

      We're nowhere close to perfect yet, but I can believe that with coherent discussions, like the ones in this comment section, we can make progress. Discussion is good, debate is good, ideas and points are good - it's been great to see the comments!

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      William Kell 4 years ago

      Here is my opinion as an engineer who sees life as black and white and not shades of grey. In their purest forms, socialism promotes medocraty (sp?) and capitolism promotes excellence. I will never embrace socialism. It is clearly an inferior model. When I was in colledge I was taking four courses. Three were graded by ABCDF and the fourth was pass fail. Guess which subject I spent the least time on? It is clearly not fair for those who put forth no effort to get the same rewards as those who work hard.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      What has "no effort" got to do with socialism?

      It's another well propagated myth of the right wing that socialism means a dumbing down when it's really capitalism that insists that a whole segment of society should be dumb and just accept their lot in life.

      Life isn't black and white, it is numerous shades of grey, and many other colours as well.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @William Kell - I have to second John Holden that life is numerous shades of gray. While I am confident in capitalism, this is not to say that I advocate the far right. There is no reason to blinker ourselves to only the options of far right and far left when, as I've defended in my hub, the solutions are in the shades of gray in the middle. While maybe it's an interesting hypothetical coffee table debate whether I'd prefer a totalitarian gov or Victorian England, I think it's already pretty settled that we'd prefer a third option. Thank you for your comment.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John's previous comment has it right, the right answer is a mixture. In point of fact, William, in its purest form, from an engineering systems approach, capitalism inexorably leads to monopoly and totalitarianism. Because of human flaws, without government intervention, what assert becomes a mathematical certainty.

      Why? Because for capitalism to work properly, for the good of all, it must always be in balance, or quickly come back into balance. Well, it doesn't; it has built-in positive feedback mechenisms which, unchecked, lead to the outcome I suggest.

      That is not, however, a natural outcome of a socialist economic system, mainly because the government is always intervening. Can you have that sort of outcome, of course, look at the former Soviet Union. But then look at China with its Capitalism model.

      Given a choice, would select a socialist economic system over a run-a-muck capilatist one anyday. But, my real preference is a regulated capitalist economic system a la the one we had between 1950 and 1980 or, if you take out the deregulation of the financial sector, up until 2000.

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      William Kell 4 years ago

      First, thank all of you for your honest comments. And I mean that. Please try to understand the typical engineer's mind and engineer's approach to problem solving. If we approached problem solving by thinking in shades of gray we would never (or take much, much longer) get a power generation plant designed and built. The projects I worked on over my 35 years were almost always fast track. What does that mean? We are forced to make decisions without good information. No grey here, it's all black and white! Yes assumptions, hundreds of assumptions must be made early in the project to keep the design moving. And I'm not talking about making an assumption that we don't know the facts about a particular technical problem. That wouldn't be an assumption, but a fact. We base are assumptions on our formal education knowledge and practical experience knowledge bases. Then we develope the designs based on these assumptions. When the black and white facts become clear, we revise the design to match the latest information. Because the dead lines don't move, engineers are pressured in to working overtime (and we're not on salary. We get paid by the hour unlike project managers). Knowing this always the pattern, project managers put in extra money in order to cover the extra engineering costs (which by the way are a small part of the overall project costs). But they don't tell the engineers about this secret money.This type of business process I believe is to the right as opposed to the left. The results are, the projects get done on time and start producing revenue much quicker than countries who are more to the left. I believe in most socialistic countries there is not the sense of urgency to get things done ASAP and with the highest competitve quality, i.e. "Hurry up and do it perfect". I would like to suggest that professional engineers are typically more conservative than teachers who work for the goverment. I believe capitalism to the center and socialism to the center are one and the same. For the reasons I've stated above, I believe the US is (for it's size) is the wealthiest nation in the world. It's a well oiled machine where there's a sense of urgency to get things done and a reward for hard work unlike any other large country in the World. I could be wrong, but this what I believe.

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      Things don't come much greyer than an assumption!

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Here is another aspect I just became aware of through one the lectures I listen two. Capitalism evolves as the necessary economic system to conform with Liberalism's idea that an individual's unalienable rights are paramount - a political perspective.

      Socialism (as well as Conservatism) take the position that it is economic equality of masses that must be the driving force, an economic perspective. (Conservativism is conserned with preserving wealth from the masses, btw) No wonder the twains don't meet.

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      William Kell 4 years ago

      John Holden. I disagree. When an engineer makes an assumption, he assumes his assumption is true (that's black and white) and moves forward with his detail design based on that assumed truth. And it may well be true. If it becomes clear that his assumption was wrong, a new truth comes forth, but he still still has to make an assumption that the new data is true. Finally when the machines make it to the contruction site, more assumptions are made with the new data that becomes clear by actually looking at the machines. Then management either sends the design engineer to the field to correct h or hers incorrect assumptions or hire field engineers to fix the design construction documents. I believe saying you don't know what is true is a shade of gray. People in the engineering consulting business that say that don't know what the absolute true data is to do the engineering design early in the project and chose to sit there and do little or nothing while collecting their charged hours, probably are not practicing professional engineering in the US and probably live in countires that are more to the left. I will contend that many of the leftist comments I've read above above....well, lets just say all you are doing is reading books about history and believing what you read is true. I want everyone who reads this to know my basis for my theories I've outlined in my responses are not based on history or theological books I've read. My opinions are based on real life business situtations. I've been on the front line for over 35 years. Capitalism...It's great! It drives everything towards excellence and in the US it has built in checks and balances which is exactly the way our founding faters wanted it to be. Is there any other engineers out there?Am I the only person on Earth that processes information this way?

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      The very act of making an assumption is grey!

      Even if the person claiming a thing is the truth, until it is proved it remains grey.

      Sorry.

      As for "all I am doing is reading books about history" That too is somewhat grey, sure, I read a lot but I also have lived through quite a bit of history as well.

      Reading about history (the only way we can experience history outside our life time) involves reading many books on the same subject and also looking at the background of the writer - is he neutral or is he politically biased?

      I agree that too many people just spew the party line without looking into it in depth. You know the sort of thing I mean, Hitler was a socialist, Lenin was left wing, welfare is a socialist plot to overthrow governments and so on. All disproved by a small amount of study.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Is a foot a foot? An engineer will say one thing, a philosopher will say another because their perspectives are different, but both will be true. To an engineer (I am a cost analyste, historian, philosopher, btw), a foot is 12 inches, pretty exact and black and white. To a philosopher, a foot may be an appendage to a human or the bottom of a mountain, etc. So, to me, your discussion, William and John, is very interesting, but I think fruitless as you are both correct.

      As a cost analyst, I dealt in assumptions all of the time, yet there was nothing black or white in my field. We would make an assumption, do some calculations, then do sensitivity analysis and look at the probabilities of our hypotheses being true or not. Yet, if I assume in my analysis that 2 to the nth power is always greater than or equal to 2, given n equals 1 or more, that is black and white. You know that statement to be true, but try proving it mathematically.

      What do each of you say about the assumption that the sun will come up in the East tomorrow? Is that black and white, or gray?

      I do agree with John, however, that you can certainly use history to understand and analyze today, one our major problems today is that we don't do that, we, as a race, refuse to learn from the past.

      For example, history is very, very clear that Austrian economic theory leads to instability and wild swings in the economic cycle, but people refuse to believe the mountain of data before their eyes and stick to a philosophical view of economics. Autrians have been forced to accept many principles of Keynesian macroeconomic theory, but nevertheless twist them beyond recognition to make them fit the Austrian model. In 2000, the party in power completed the move back to the economics of the 1800s and 2008 was the result; it was a repeat of 20+ major recessions that occured between 1815 and 1937; while the details were different, the fundemental causes were basically the same.

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      Brandon Argy 4 years ago

      I didn't have to read to far into this to realize you have no clue what you are talking about. First to say China is a Communist country. First you need to know what Communism is and I would just you do some research on that before you write your next article. Also you need to learn what Socialism is as it appears you are not really clear on the definition of what it is.

      To help you out, there has NEVER been a true Socialist or Communist country. Communism, simply put, is community owned. You produce zero evidence other than China (lol) that Communism doesn't work. SO i will give you alittle more research for free on that.

      In 1991 Somalia over through its government and went into a 20 year state of Anarchy and the capitalist UN got involved with Somalia in 2004 and established a government in 2011. During this 20 year period their GDP went way down yet the life expectancy, availability of medical care and the over all standard of living went up... until 2004. Somalis went into a more Communist State during that 20 year period (we'll say 113 year period because the UN got involved in 2004).

      Now once the UN got involved, turning it into a more Capitalist Country the GDP started to go up and the standard of living began to go down.

      GDP is ONLY involved in Capitalism. Capitalism doesn't work because there is not and never will be enough "payroll" for the population to consume all the products made. The ONLY way that can happen is if there is no "profit" being made. That "profit" is then turned into capital and the cycle starts all over again.

      Just an FYI

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      An interesting, if not insulting, set of observations, Brandon, too bad your own research on Somalia doesn't quite mesh, starting with that oxymoron "capitalist UN". I just finished looking up the history of Somalia since what you wrote didn't ring a bell; as I expected, your version and a couple of versions (including Wikipedia) I found on-line didn't jive.

      You are only partly right regarding capitalims. In a basic economy with no banks or credit, you are probably right; in the real world there are banks and credit making it is possible for M6 to increase as the economy grows which provides for profit to exist.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Brandon - I'll be slightly busy for the next couple of days, so I might not be able to respond to you comprehensively until late Saturday. However, let quickly emphasize that I did not intend to use China (which I agree is not communist, though certainly is socialist by the definition I provided near the top) as proof for anything. Rather, I used it to theorize that the problems we see today in the PRC were caused by what I see as structural problems in socialism. Please feel free to respond based on that.

      My def of communism was a society where class, money, and the state no longer exist, and where all resources are owned collectively. I provided my definitions for capitalism and socialism near the top of the article. From my brief read of your comment, I'm unsure what you disagree with in my definitions. Please elaborate, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

      Note: I know nothing about Somalia, so I will leave that to the general conversation.

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      Emerson 4 years ago

      Hi Bob,

      I enjoyed your post you make some good points. Did not read the comments, so i apologize if I'm repeating someone

      Most of the times you write "socialism" you are referring to marxist communism. The ideal of "centrist capitalism" that you are promoting IS socialism

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      While Bob is off working, I need to ask this question, Emerson - Where in Bob's discription of "centrist capitalism" is he advocating the common ownership of the means of production and distribution by the People via government proxy; the classic definition of socialism? Keep in mind, socialism is only part of the transition to communism. As Bob's definitions clearly imply, in socialism, you still have a normal economic system at work with people getting paid for the production of and the buying of goods and services. In communism, even that was supposed to disappear as their would be no need for it.

      As I see it, Bob's "centrist capitalism" is simply active state liberalism applied to a capitalist economy. The idea behind active state liberalism is the federal government must step in, because of everything Bob depicted, to ensure the privleges of wealth, (the privleges are unearned while the wealth are earned), don't interefere with the rights of the individual. (Limited state liberals, while believing the rights of individuals need protection, it should be left to the States to do the protecting, and even that should be minimal for the limited state liberal's maxim is let social Darwinism prevail.)

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      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      Daves, answer to Josak was the key as to why socialism always FAILS! I am amazed that Josak does not get this. ..............do any of these liberals ever stop to think they are trying to instill mechanics that will change the way the greatest country on earth was built?? If its not broke what in the world are you trying to accomplish????

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Socialists aren't liberals and liberals are not socialists; there is a fundamental difference between them regarding individual rights; socialists don't believe individual rights trump societal rights while liberals DO believe individual rights societal rights.

      Why hasn't Sweeden or India failed? They both own the means of production for most major industries.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      The whole concept of the United States was to have the States run with a small Federal Government. The job of the federal government was to represent the country as a whole to the other countries. and take care of disputes between the states. There is more but that is the general idea.

      Over the last thirty to forty years the federal government has usurped the existence of the states, and it has been acting like the parent over a three year old.

      All we need to know about capitalism and socialism is that before the federal government became a parent, we were not a socialist country. Whether that means that we were capitalists is not important, it just means that we weren't socialists.

      Now we have inched from the period of none socialism to socialistic. The economic collapse of 2008 gave the federal government the boost to go further in to socialism.

      When I hear people on the hubs say that the rich are not paying their fair share to support the federal government, that is the sound of socialism.

      These people want the federal government to be their Robin Hood. And just like the Robin Hood story that means more taxes from the rich.

      These people care about racism, and gay marriages, and other discrimination, but they don't consider forcing the rich to pay the highest tax bracket as discrimination targeting the rich.

      Is discrimination an absolute concept or do we pick and choose?

      The size and scope of the Federal Government is also an indication of socialism. They want to tax as they grow, and then dispense these unearned taxes to the poor. Which by the way is also the supporters of their politicians.

      Today we aren't the United States of America, we are the red and blue states of America. And we are moving to the USSA, Union of Socialist States of America.

      The solution is for the states to take back the power that belongs to the States from the federal government that sucked it away over the last half century. And then try to become the purple states of America.

      Does anyone think that India is their role model in any form?

      Out of all the countries in the world is this the pinnacle of socialism that is better than capitalism?

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      Bob if China is not communism, then I would hate to realize what your definition is! Communism isn't just a definition, Its anything that suppresses the people, One has to have a permit to have children for goodness sake! They will imprison those who defy government! Damn how bad does it have to get for the word to have meaning?????

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      John Holden 4 years ago

      Communism is a "movement to create a classless, moneyless and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production,"

      Where in that is any mention of suppression?

      And where in that is China?

      Just because somebody or something calls itself something does not actually make it so. After all, there is actually nothing to stop me calling myself the King of England, I could even have it on my notepaper, but that would not actually make me the King of England.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      ib radmasters , there is more to socialism than just you not liking the way things are working out.

      Socialism isn't about power of the government, it's about the power of the people.

      By the way, in every other country of the world red is the colour of the left wing and blue the colour of the right wing!

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      There are obvious flaws in Communism!

      There are Obvious Holes in Socialism!

      There are Obvious weakness's in Capitalism!

      It is time mankind threw them all away. No different than a used car.... you can only fix the dam thing so many times when finally the day comes you take it off the road. Same is true with all the political systems mankind to date has tried and used. They "ALL" have to be put to pasture and something new must be born to take there place.

      Never before in the history of mankind has there been so many educated and skilled peoples, on every continent. It is time we built a new system for the changing times we live in.

      Put the old cars in the the museum of mankind! Shrinking Middle Class to Zero.... together build something new!

      Answer = "Creativity - not re-runs of outdated mechanical practices. Old outdated rules no longer apply!" ... The world is in a different place, mankind has changed.

      We do not need change - we need mankind as a whole to progress. Progress will happen when creativity brings forth something new!

      Not a modified version of the past - something new!

    • sanjay-sonawani profile image

      Sanjay Sonawani 4 years ago from Pune, India.

      Capitalism goes very natural with human psychology, this is why it works whereas Socialism is just an ideology, seems better to practice but couldn't be as it goes against human nature. However the problems with capitalism you have addressed needs attention because it may end whole society some day!

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      John

      What does any of that have to do with my comment?

      We are playing ball in two different courts.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Wow. You take off for 3 days... :D

      I'll start responding from the top (to the comments that seem addressed to me) and attempt to catch up within the next couple of days. Because the comments aren't threaded, this could be slightly confusing. I'll do my best to specify what I'm responding to. Feel free to continue the discussion.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Emerson - Thanks for stopping by, Emerson. I would second MyE's response. My centrist capitalism is "capitalism" because it doesn't advocate common ownership of the means of production, the generally agreed upon definition line between capitalism and socialism.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the article, and thanks for your comment.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @MyE - Thanks a ton, was off in Santa Barbara for the weekend. As usual, your reply is right on point.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Patriot Quest - I'm fairly sure you're referring to the comments by Davesworld, from about 9 months ago, right? I agree with the essence of those comments, though I think the slave metaphor only goes to a point. The lack of incentive in a far left socialist structure is one of the key failings of the far left wing.

      However, as discussed in the article, I support several "leftist" or "liberal" ideas, among them a bracketed tax system (I believe I discussed why - if not, it should be in the comments a bit after Josak's), taxes (including income, capital gains, and estate), and a social safety net and ladder (is this really arguable?).

      I found Josak's comments insightful and thought-provoking, and my view is that the left, especially the centrist left, has much to contribute to the discussion. In my experience, discussion has solved a lot more problems than two-camping has. Thanks for your comment, Patriot.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I like Sanjay's answer.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I gather from Patriot's last post, Iran is a communist country.

      And IB, you think it falls within the geneal Welfare framework that a family of 4, who requires $20,000/yr for subsistance living, and earns exactly that much, should be paying the same top rate as a family of 4 whose income is $1,ooo,ooo,ooo/yr even when the rich family of 4 enjoy unearned privleges, simply and only because they have a billion dollars cash-on-hand, which are not available to the lower income family

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Speaking of privilege, I wonder of socialism isn't more about the distribution of unearned privilege around equally rather than earned wealth? I don't think there is anything in socialism that suggests earned wealth must to equal, only that all people should share the same privileges.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      OK, I'll play, lets just define communism and socialism as tyranny. I see more talk of those evil rich? Why is wealth evil? Why do you want a society where everyone has the same income level? ........all of you are living in fantasy world, Some work harder, some are lazy, some are comfortable with 40 hours, while others want 80 hours because of ambition. ..................want fairness? Lets make those making less than 50K a year paying something into the tax system, they get all their money back at the end of the year, yet use the same roads and schools the rich do! Cant everyone pay at least 100 dollars? That would mean 47 million welfare reciepients would be paying in, instead of taking out..............for all wanting financial equality, remember when you destroy the rich, you put in a system meaning YOU can NEVER be rich!, and neither can your offspring! Oh wait! that would be something akin to communism!

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      My Esoteric

      And IB, you think it falls within the geneal Welfare framework that a family of 4, who requires $20,000/yr for subsistance living, and earns exactly that much, should be paying the same top rate as a family of 4 whose income is $1,ooo,ooo,ooo/yr even when the rich family of 4 enjoy unearned privleges, simply and only because they have a billion dollars cash-on-hand, which are not available to the lower income family

      ib-----------------------

      Yes, and in actuality, that poor family not only doesn't pay taxes, except for FICA which is the same for everyone, they even get assistance.

      So I don't see your point. It is not the job of the government nor the taxpayer to pay for someone elses lifestyle. Starting a family that one cannot afford is poor judgement.

      And there are only several hundred billionaire in the country, and it is not their job to pay taxes accrued by others. These billionaires can donate to charity, which they do, but not the government.

      Isn't unfair for the government to discriminate against the wealthy. Remember the congress sets up the building blocks for people to become billionaire. Those blocks are called the Internal Revenue Code.

      If you want everyone to be treated the same, then you need to abolish the Income Tax System, and the IRC

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      But assuming we were back in the late 1800s, when the federal gov't ignored its citizen's welfare, the poor family would have gotten no assistance. So, your solution is to let taxes push the poor family below subsistance level and let the rich people keep their unearned privileges for free.

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      My esoteric, read these words carefully...

      It is not the job of the government nor the taxpayer to pay for someone else's lifestyle. Starting a family that one cannot afford is poor judgment.

      ib was very correct on that matter.

      Also My esoteric, no one said anything about ignoring the welfare of citizens. Poor people choose to be poor because of the POOR choices they make in life. This is a true statement. People on welfare who choose to stay there do so because they are lazy and have no ambition. You can throw money at them, but you will never get them to contribute to society.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      "Also My esoteric, no one said anything about ignoring the welfare of citizens. Poor people choose to be poor because of the POOR choices they make in life. This is a true statement. People on welfare who choose to stay there do so because they are lazy and have no ambition. You can throw money at them, but you will never get them to contribute to society."

      And that is one of the biggest heaps of rubbish that I have read in a long time!

      Yes blame the victims why don't you, it saves you having to care, if that is actually in your powers, though I doubt it.

      No, no more, I might say something I won't regret.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      My Esoteric, I have researched this several times, and before govt assistance I can not find ONE person that starved to death in this country? History claims a few Pilgrims MIGHT have starved early on but most contribute their demise to disease..............so if no one was starving then..........why do we need govt assistance today? Most welfare recipients are over weight, Most are able bodied, ........I don't get it!?????

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Why does it only have to be people who have starved to death?

      At the outbreak of the first world war 75% (yes 75%) of the working (yes working) men in Manchester were so malnourished that they were unfit for service.

      That's why the government had to step in!

      Remember, I said working men, not working men who happened to be between jobs, but actual real men in active employment.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      Holden, you answered your own question! You said Manchester? Liberal then and liberal now! Look at all Liberal states, bankrupt, poor, entitlement laden..........then look at my state, 5.2% unemployment, average home cost 185K average home has 3 garages, Ever wonder why your side fails and crys for OUR money, yet constantly tells us how hick and stupid we are?????????? LOL lOL.......I just went and googled pics of men from 1916......couldnt find anyone malnurished.......sorry.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Quest, you are talking through your ass.

      Manchester was the foundation of the industrial revolution, sure, there were some liberals involved - men who thought that employing children 60 hours a week was a little off, so they let them have half a day a week to go to school, but there were no liberals as you think of them, or not in any position of authority.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, understand that Patriot, IB, and Marquis are what sociologists call Social Darwinists; it is a distinguishing characteristic of those hold to minimal state liberalism, but especially conservatism. Nobody is anybody's "Brother's Keeper" and they shouldn't be, according to what I am reading here. Life is a jungle and humans need to act like animals in a jungle; "survival of the fittest" and "law of the jungle" is the name of the game. Also, it might entail a problem with careful reading.

      Marquis, the problem I posed to IB is an "analytical" argument, a technique used in critical thinking. The fact that people "today" can get gov't assistance doesn't bear on the question, only the "assumption" that they would not (which was the case prior to 1933) is relavant in order to make clear ones true position. In this case, he agreed it was OK to tax the poor into below subsistance-level living in order for the rich and poor to have equal tax burdens as a percentage of their income.

      Further, to make a blanket statement that all poor people are poor ONLY because THEY all made poor decisions is, to be polite, ludicrous.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      M.E. much more politely put than I felt inclined to state it.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      I had intended to work my way down from the top, but I need to jump in here. What I see in this wave of conversation is a right minimalist viewpoint arguing for no government intervention (or right libertarian, Social Darwinist, full laissez faire – for the purpose of this discussion, these are equivalent) versus a highly centrist viewpoint that advocates a free market with some gov intervention to provide a safety net. Kindly pause on that – are we agreed?

      I’ll give my opinion on that, but first on something else.

      “I am amazed that Josak does not get this. ..............do any of these liberals ever stop to think…”

      “...all of you are living in fantasy world…”

      “One of the biggest heaps of rubbish …”

      “Yes blame the victims why don't you, it saves you having to care, if that is actually in your powers, though I doubt it.”

      “Ever wonder why your side fails and crys for OUR money, yet constantly tells us how hick and stupid we are??????????”

      “You are talking through your ass.”

      Please avoid incivility and ad-hominem. (For anyone unfamiliar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem.) The comments so far have generally been constructive and intelligent, and it’d be nice keep them that way.

      On minimal intervention/ Social Darwinist thought – The far right, like the far left, simply does not work. I addressed this in the paragraphs following, “How would this happen?” in the section “Capitalism” under “Why both extremes fail”.

      @Marquis and @PatriotQuest – My questions to you guys are these: Do you believe the American Dream (anyone, born anywhere, should be able to get to the top if they work hard enough, smart enough, or contribute enough) is intrinsic to America’s success? If the answer is yes, then my response is that we need a social safety net to make that possible. If the answer is no, then my follow-up question: What other solution is there to keep society stable, fair, and productive in the long run?

      Great, now I’ll be going back up to where I was in my responses. Thank you everyone for your comments.

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      John Holden likes to make excuses for the poor people. But the poor people could care less for you UNLESS you give them something for free.

      That has nothing to do with Social Darwinism.

      I will say it again "Poor people choose to be poor because of the POOR choices they make in life. This is a true statement. People on welfare who choose to stay there do so because they are lazy and have no ambition."

      I feel the need to not explain any further. I have seen people apply themselves who were in bad situations.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @ib (from the earlier comments) - I won't go into the balance of fed and State power on this hub, because this is on capitalism v. socialism. Look me up if you want to discuss it, though.

      I'll try to respond to your other points in an organized way.

      "All we need to know about capitalism and socialism is that before the federal government became a parent, we were not a socialist country. Whether that means that we were capitalists is not important, it just means that we weren't socialists.

      I want to make clear that the definition of socialism is 1.) Marxist stage towards "communism" (not the one in use here), and 2.) a society with the means of production commonly owned (the def often used in political discussions). I used the second in this article, and federalism doesn't have any (direct) bearing on capitalism v. socialism.

      "When I hear people on the hubs say that the rich are not paying their fair share to support the federal government, that is the sound of socialism."

      No, I would say that that's advocating a smaller wealth gap and a stronger safety, rather than pushing the country towards socialism. And while I think that can be easily abused and taken too far, I think that could also be a positive move towards a more fair capitalism. (See under "Why both extremes fail", then "Capitalism.)

      "These people care about racism, and gay marriages, and other discrimination, but they don't consider forcing the rich to pay the highest tax bracket as discrimination targeting the rich."

      Neither do I. Like I stated in an earlier comment, I support a bracketed tax system. I defended that in this paragraph, "Some seem to think that taxation of any sort is unfair; however, taxation is necessary (like mentioned above) to prevent the wealthy and corporations from monopolizing and owning the democratic process, which would quickly make society unjust and unproductive. The money from taxes would go to a tight safety net preventing downward spirals and enabling upward mobility, preventing the wealth gap from growing too large while still providing benefits for those who work versus those who don't." Feel free to comment below if that's unclear.

      "Does anyone think that India is their role model in any form? Out of all the countries in the world is this the pinnacle of socialism that is better than capitalism?"

      I'll second this one in response @John Holden, though I think their socialist problems are dwarfed by their capitalist problem of a ridiculously large wealth gap. And both of those are in turn dwarfed by a problem caused by too much of elements of both: corruption.

      I edited out large portions of your comment as they had more to do with US politics, but I sincerely would love to talk about the problems in the States sometime. Thanks for your comment, and email me if you have a hub or forum going on US political structure.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      The problem with your thesis, @Marquis, is that you attribute the attitude of a few poor people to the whole class. If you want to encourage us to believe you, present some statistics that at least support, I am not even asking for proof, your position. At the moment, all we have is your opinion with absolutely no logic nor facts attached.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Marquis - Please define "the poor people [who] could care less for you UNLESS you give them something for free." You mentioned people who found themselves in bad situations - are they included? How about the children born into poor families?

      My view is that the American Dream is there for people like them. Willing to work hard, but in a bad situation. Yes, there are "welfare leeches" (exactly how many is irrelevant - please, nobody start a stat war), but I see that as a slight negative at worst.

      The benefits of having a fair, stable society outweighs the fact that we all have to pay a little for some who don't carry their weight. That does tend to happen in life sometimes. Do you agree? Also, could I have your answers to my previous questions? (They're a couple of comments up.)

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Mr Esoteric, the problem with yours is that you think that the poor in general are to be babied. You can baby them by giving them job applications, some trade school and teaching them a few things about morality.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Beautifully put, Bob!

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Patriot Quest (from earlier) - Just to be clear on definitions: socialism is everything to the left of common ownership of the means of production. Capitalism is everything to the right of that. Communism is a stage in Marxist theory that is stateless, classless, and moneyless. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism)

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Don't forget that socialism is also Godless.

      Although I have met Christian Socialists, there aren't just many to go around.

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      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      @Marquis, please provide a few of my quotes where I have even hinted that is what I think; it should be pretty diffucult to do because I absolutely don't think that, unless you think even one iota of help is considered "babying".

      Also, where did you ever get the idea socialism is Godless? That is a communist view, because it is allegedly an opiate to the human soul, but it is definitely not a socialist view. Socialist's run the gamut of religious beliefs.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Neil Sperling (from earlier) - I think we're completely agreed; I'm just using the old vocabulary to explain my ideas. Everything that has been tried so far has been flawed, and I think there is hope in these times that we'll be able to figure out some of those flaws. I'll leave it there, though, for the sake of staying on topic. Thank you for your comment.

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      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      I do not have to find anything. I call the cards like I see them. I also grew up in the projects and experienced it (being poor and on welfare) FIRST HAND. So quotes are not necessary. Dr. Ben Carson grew up in the same position and same place as I have and he applied himself. Look where it got him.

      All I am saying is that the poor or people who are poor need to apply themselves MORE instead of making excuses. And you need to stop making excuses for them too.

      That is the problem right there!

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      You might want to goggle Dr. Ben Carson if you are not familiar with him. See, he hates the welfare system and people who make excuses for that sort of system.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Marquis and @MyE - Pause. No theological arguments, please - I think we're in agreement that no theological evidence can be accepted as a base in this political discussion. There's no equivalent to "end of thread" in a comment section, but [end of thread].

      @Marquis - Kindly respond to the questions by MyE and myself before posting any new points. The discussion can't go any further until we have your views on the questions above.

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      That is your opinion.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Sanjay (from earlier) - Completely agreed. What should ideals be based on, after all? I say human nature. Thanks for your comment and the follow.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      I think I've caught up! If anyone else made a point that I didn't address, I'm going to have to ask you to repost it. Back to the regularly scheduled program, everyone.

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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Marquis: Well, it certainly is my VIEW (sorry, no italics) - but I won't get into semantics. Marquis, I can't respond without your answers. Any additional comments or evidence you provide have little meaning without your base - how can we form any kind of conclusion without a clear argument?

      And I see your comment, "Bob, have you seen Starship Troopers?", but I'll ask you to please repost it with your point (for the sake of people following the comments). No, I haven't, though I could certainly Google it if you have a metaphor or something that you want to make.

      I don't censor comments, but I can't think of a way to give any response besides repeating my questions. So here they are: "Please define "the poor people [who] could care less for you UNLESS you give them something for free." You mentioned people who found themselves in bad situations - are they included? How about the children born into poor families?"

      And also, "Do you believe the American Dream (anyone, born anywhere, should be able to get to the top if they work hard enough, smart enough, or contribute enough) is intrinsic to America’s success? If the answer is yes, then my response is that we need a social safety net to make that possible. If the answer is no, then my follow-up question: What other solution is there to keep society stable, fair, and productive in the long run?"

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Once again Bob, I apologise for my burst of exasperation last night. Sometimes even with the best will in the world . . .

      If Marquis truly believes that the poor and everybody on welfare is lazy and author of their own fate, can he please explain to me why when the economy is good most have jobs and when the economy is bad they revert to laziness?

      Of course there are some on welfare who prefer that way of life but to tar everybody with the same brush is short-sighted, just as it would be to accuse every worker of lead swinging just because a few do. And believe me I've met a few people employed who put more effort into doing nothing than doing their job would entail.

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      I am done man. I would explain my Starship Troopers comment, but why?

      Good article though-

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      John - I have the same questions you do, but I'm not experienced enough with specifics in the welfare system to provide anything in response. We're agreed in that "tarring everyone with the same brush" (great saying) is simply incorrect. As always, thank you for your comments.

      Marquis - That's cool, man. Thank you for your comments and for stopping by. Hope to see you around!

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I tried to find information about Dr. Ben Carson, it was very difficult. The best that I got is that he is a fundamentalist Christian, or close to it, who appears to think that it was God's work that created the Constitution. Beyond that, he favors a flat tax (or tythe as he thinks of it), better education (who doesn't), and a Health Savings Account that all people appear to be able to fund for themselves and their kids from birth ot death. Didn't see anything about poor people after having looked at about a dozen articles.

      Just thought you might want to know.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      My Esoteric

      "John, understand that Patriot, IB, and Marquis are what sociologists call Social Darwinists; it is a distinguishing characteristic of those hold to minimal state liberalism,"

      ib-------------

      Cheap shot, and it is irrelevant.

      ---------------------

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      Bob

      "@ib (from the earlier comments) - I won't go into the balance of fed and State power on this hub, because this is on capitalism v. socialism. Look me up if you want to discuss it, though.

      I'll try to respond to your other points in an organized way.

      "All we need to know about capitalism and socialism is that before the federal government became a parent, we were not a socialist country. Whether that means that we were capitalists is not important, it just means that we weren't socialists.

      I want to make clear that the definition of socialism is 1.) Marxist stage towards "communism" (not the one in use here), and 2.) a society with the means of production commonly owned (the def often used in political discussions). I used the second in this article, and federalism doesn't have any (direct) bearing on capitalism v. socialism.

      ib---------------

      Labeling is not important, it is the structure, and not the ideology that is important. The United States is not in a clearly defined state, and the topic of your hub is not important if is can't be applied to something.

      ================

      "When I hear people on the hubs say that the rich are not paying their fair share to support the federal government, that is the sound of socialism."

      No, I would say that that's advocating a smaller wealth gap and a stronger safety, rather than pushing the country towards socialism. And while I think that can be easily abused and taken too far, I think that could also be a positive move towards a more fair capitalism. (See under "Why both extremes fail", then "Capitalism.)

      ib----------

      Call it what you want, but it is not capitalism. It is the act of a government that is obese, and has increased its scope beyond the capabilities of the government.

      --------------

      "These people care about racism, and gay marriages, and other discrimination, but they don't consider forcing the rich to pay the highest tax bracket as discrimination targeting the rich."

      Neither do I. Like I stated in an earlier comment, I support a bracketed tax system. I defended that in this paragraph, "Some seem to think that taxation of any sort is unfair; however, taxation is necessary (like mentioned above) to prevent the wealthy and corporations from monopolizing and owning the democratic process, which would quickly make society unjust and unproductive. The money from taxes would go to a tight safety net preventing downward spirals and enabling upward mobility, preventing the wealth gap from growing too large while still providing benefits for those who work versus those who don't." Feel free to comment below if that's unclear.

      ib----------

      Discrimination has to be applied equally, and the rich are being discriminated against. period.

      The federal government in the US has gone far beyond the needs and wants of the country. Your comment makes no sense, the government needs to have a defined scope, and tax to work within that scope. This government wants to give us fish, instead of making us fisherman.

      ---------------

      "Does anyone think that India is their role model in any form? Out of all the countries in the world is this the pinnacle of socialism that is better than capitalism?"

      I'll second this one in response @John Holden, though I think their socialist problems are dwarfed by their capitalist problem of a ridiculously large wealth gap. And both of those are in turn dwarfed by a problem caused by too much of elements of both: corruption.

      I edited out large portions of your comment as they had more to do with US politics, but I sincerely would love to talk about the problems in the States sometime. Thanks for your comment, and email me if you have a hub or forum going on US political structure."

      ib--------

      I only care about the US, and what other country are people, other than Muslims trying to get into?

      You can always find those hubs in my domain.

      ----------

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      "I only care about the US,"

      That saddens me so much - that somebody who is a part of the most powerful country in the world does not care about how their actions affect the rest of the world.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      IB, not a cheap shot at all; social Darwinism is used in academic discussions to describe the kind of views those on the Right (well, anybody, I suppose) hold regarding social interaction and the belief that government has any role to play in keeping the playing field level; just like the name, and most of your arguments imply, humans should be left to fend for themselves.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      ib - ""All we need to know about capitalism and socialism is that before the federal government became a parent, we were not a socialist country. Whether that means that we were capitalists is not important, it just means that we weren't socialists."

      -------------------- ME, we aren't socialist now and never have been.

      ib - "Labeling is not important, it is the structure, and not the ideology that is important. The United States is not in a clearly defined state, and the topic of your hub is not important if is can't be applied to something."

      -------------------- ME - show me where in American history after industrialization began that we have been anything but capitalist? I don't recall a time when citizens were prohibited by the government from starting and growing businesses of almost any description and increasing their wealth beyond what they had started with without limit. (Granted, the rate of growth may vary based on many factors including tax rates, but grow without limit it can.) If this has not been the case, I sure was asleep at the switch.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      My Esoteric

      "IB, not a cheap shot at all; social Darwinism is used in academic discussions to describe the kind of views those on the Right (well, anybody, I suppose) hold regarding social interaction and the belief that government has any role to play in keeping the playing field level; just like the name, and most of your arguments imply, humans should be left to fend for themselves."

      ib-----

      It is a cheap shot, we don't need to be labeled by you, if you have an argument present it with some specific references.

      And your statement here doesn't make a point, and it again lacks references to my actual statements.

      --------------------

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      Mt Esoteric

      "ib - ""All we need to know about capitalism and socialism is that before the federal government became a parent, we were not a socialist country. Whether that means that we were capitalists is not important, it just means that we weren't socialists."

      -------------------- ME, we aren't socialist now and never have been.

      ib-------

      We are lost right now, and whether you call is socialism, Marxism or Communism, it isn't American.

      Labels are meaningless, the point is that the government wants to be our parent, and that is not their job.

      ----------------

      ib - "Labeling is not important, it is the structure, and not the ideology that is important. The United States is not in a clearly defined state, and the topic of your hub is not important if is can't be applied to something."

      -------------------- ME - show me where in American history after industrialization began that we have been anything but capitalist? I don't recall a time when citizens were prohibited by the government from starting and growing businesses of almost any description and increasing their wealth beyond what they had started with without limit. (Granted, the rate of growth may vary based on many factors including tax rates, but grow without limit it can.) If this has not been the case, I sure was asleep at the switch."

      ib-----------

      Then you should read up on how the two line of the Interstate Commerce Clause expanded. In addition, by the federal government growing without a limit, it takes away or severely reduces the power of the states. Read the 10th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause if you want to understand my point..

      ----------------------------------

      -------------------

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Ib, I simply don't see the gov't trying to become our parent; I see the gov't trying to be an equalizing force to mitigate the ability of those who have succeeded from arranging the social and economic environment such that they can maintain their own position while, at the same time, prevent others from achieving their American Dream. I hope you don't question, ib, the successful's ability to use their earned wealth and unearned power and privilege to rig the game in their favor, American history is chock-full of examples.

      So, from this two question arises, 1) do you think it is gov'ts job to help prevent the successful from bring economic and social mobilty to a virtual stand-still for the other 80% of Americans? If you do, then 2) how do you propose gov't do this?

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      For the sake of clarity, I'll summarize this wave of discussion (corrections and edits welcome).

      One view says that societal structure should minimize government interference, having no (or almost no) welfare system and a flat tax to pay for publicly used utilities (roads, for example). The justification for this is that no individual should be forced into helping another, and that laissez faire (or the free market) is the most effective way to develop society (technology, resources, etc).

      I think it's pretty clear, but the above paragraph is intended to describe @ib 's view. I'm fairly certain that I didn't get your view exactly right, so please respond with your edits. For example, I extrapolated your views on safety nets/welfare systems - please correct with your actual view. Do you believe that there should be no safety net, or just that the current level of welfare is too high?

      I had a few responses already formulated from previous comments, but in beginning to write a response, I realized I wasn't certain what to respond to. @ib, please provide a quick summary of your view (along the lines of the one I extrapolated in the first paragraph of this comment).

      Note: As noted before, we'll leave aside discussion of specific sizes for the US federal gov and the States - not directly related to the subject of this article.

      As always, thanks to everyone for the comments.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      My Esoteric

      "Ib, I simply don't see the gov't trying to become our parent; I see the gov't trying to be an equalizing force to mitigate the ability of those who have succeeded from arranging the social and economic environment such that they can maintain their own position while, at the same time, prevent others from achieving their American Dream. I hope you don't question, ib, the successful's ability to use their earned wealth and unearned power and privilege to rig the game in their favor, American history is chock-full of examples.

      ib-----------

      There is no real information here, your belief is not reality. I have no idea what your last sentence here is referencing, in fact while the sentences were written in English, I don't understand them.

      -----------------------------

      So, from this two question arises, 1) do you think it is gov'ts job to help prevent the successful from bring economic and social mobilty to a virtual stand-still for the other 80% of Americans? If you do, then 2) how do you propose gov't do this?"

      ib===============

      Once again, I have no idea what you are talking about.

      ---------------------

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      Bob

      My view is that the federal government has expanded their size and scope. As they increase they want more revenue and they don't want to work under a budget with spending that has boundaries.

      As the federal government increases in its size and scope they usurp the power or the need for the states. The federal government was created to be a central government for limited puposes and not to become the states.

      They are there to represent the country to the rest of the world. They are there to resolve conflicts between the states, and they are there to make and decide laws that are for everyone in the country.

      The 10th amendment leaves the welfare of the people to the states, not the federal government.

      Taxation negatively impacts the economy and the small and medium busieness that made this country different and great.

      It is not the job of the federal government to play Robin Hood with someone elese wealth. The federal government needs to reduce its size and scope and return the powers that belong to the states back to them.

      I don't support a flat tax, because the tax is too high and it has the overhead and inequality of the Income Tax system. I support a National Sales Tax that is similar to those found in most of the states. The mechanism is already there, and it is an equal tax system. The items needed by the poor are not taxed, and the government would get their money immediately. There would be no complicated and expensive tas forms to file. There would be no need to keep the army of IRS around, as the tax would only require an audit function of the simplest kind. It wouldn't be invasive of personal privacy as is the current income tax, nor would it nullify your 5th amendment constitutional protection, as does the income tax system. The NST wouldn't have to change every year like the Income tax system. It wouldn't require and Internal Revenue Code that is so complicated, and filled with deductions, exceptions, credits, deferments, and other mechanisms that are loopholds. It would be a straight forward single transaction at a time. Businesses would be able to work on their business and not worry about trying to make it work under the income tax system.

      People could have full use of their profits from their investments, and spend their money on what they need and want to spend it.

      After a hundred years of the income tax system, look where the country is today. It is hardly an example for a successful system.

      CPAs and Tax Attorneys could go back to the business of taking care of the business of doing business.

      The government workers are being paid by the taxpayers, and they receive good salaries, job security, good benefits, and guaranteed pensions. So each government employee is a tax liability.

      They are being treated like the masters instead of a public servant. The large federal government didn't protect the country from 19 terrorists. All the federal agencies that were on the taxpayer payrolls FAILED us. Maybe a leaner and more communicative government would have acted more effectively.

      I have mentioned these in my hubs, and quite frankly this hub is too long in the tooth to be of any further value. No one reads all of the comments, and it is down to just a few of us.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      An interesting comment, @ib, and I agree with some - if not all - of your ideas. However, I was looking for a summary more on track with the content of this article, which is capitalism v. socialism. While some following the comments might have responses to your ideas, I'm going to ask that those not be posted here - a forum or one of ib's hubs would be a better place.

      To try and clarify MyE's quote, "I hope you don't question, ib, the successful's ability to use their earned wealth and unearned power and privilege to rig the game in their favor, American history is chock-full of examples."

      In other words, the advantages someone with money has over someone who doesn't, even if they were clones of each other. While I can see these advantages manifesting throughout a working life, I think the point is most clearly illustrated when we talk about children.

      Let's say two children are born with similar dispositions and talents. That seems reasonable, yeah? One of the children, Jack, was born to an upper-middle class family with a steady household income. The other, Joseph, was born to a family below the poverty line, with no one employed and therefore no income.

      If there was no welfare program at all, it seems perfectly possible that Joseph could die very young from simple starvation. I hope we can agree - this should not happen in any society calling itself "civilized". So we need a minimal welfare program then, to provide Joseph's family with at least basic sustenance. I could extend the Jack and Joseph metaphor a bit further to illustrate why we need public education as well, but that's a bit off topic.

      The wealthy, on the other hand, have advantages that might well be "unearned". Jack, for example, was born into a wealthy family. He was raised with Unlike the either non-existent or underfunded (depends on extreme we want to go) public schools, Joseph's private school provides him with an excellent broad base education. He is easily accepted into a university and goes into his father's business.

      Eventually, he goes into investment and with his connections is able to make fairly astute investments. He passes on the wealth he gained to his son. His son, however, is utterly useless. A playboy and a party animal, all he does is indulge in expensive luxuries. With his degrees and his father's connections, however, he's still able to cruise through life - and pass on wealth to his children.

      And this is only on a personal level. If this happened society-wide, the society would simply turn into a blood dynasty - as can be seen from history, not the most effective society.

      Hope that clears it up. That might be a good subject for a hub, if anyone's interested in writing it. I would, but I'm already spending too much on just this comment. :D

      And I certainly agree that the comment section has gotten pretty lengthy, but I hope that things that were unclear in the article were clarified in the comments. Also, it's a good place for any new readers to start another wave of discussion.

      Thank you for your comments. Unless anyone is using this thread of conversation to support an on-topic point, I'm going to [end thread] and recommend that the federalism discussion be continued elsewhere.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      To support Bob's desire to move on, I will end on a positive with IB, I to think the national sales tax is the better idea; I think it enhances capitalism by allowing businesses to plan more effectively; it also definitely reduces the cost of gov't; and it can be structured, as IB hinted, in a progressive manner.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      Bob and My Esoteric

      Thanks for the explanations, and the comments.

      I was trying to keep in line with the topic of the hub, and my point was that labels and trying to look at capitalism and socialism where the government plays such a heavy role cannot a simple one.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      A good report to view for this and similar treads.. Oxfam report

      “The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process,” while the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth, a new Oxfam report said.

      http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cos...

    • profile image

      Willaim Kell 4 years ago

      I believe that Teddy Rosevelt did the right thing to break up the "Big 4" ...Steel, Banks, Oil & Rail Roads" during the late 1800's, but remember without these 4 men who were considered out of control capitalist, where we be in the USA today? Let's thank these 4 great business men for what they did!!! Teddy R. was no Saint. Does any one remember how he got the Panama Canal built? Does the word Cue have any meaning?

    • ChrisJawalka profile image

      Chris Jawalka 4 years ago from Louisville, OH

      You are aware the the majority of the countries in the industrialized world today are socialist? The U.K., Japan, France, Sweden, etc. Unitary is exactly the same ideology. The U.S. is one of the last to not take it on. And if it "doesn't work", then why are all of them doing so much better than the U.S. in regards to economy?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      The UK is certainly not socialist!

    • ChrisJawalka profile image

      Chris Jawalka 4 years ago from Louisville, OH

      They are an 'unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy'

      Unitary - "a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions (subnational units) exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate."

      Sorry... but, them and pretty much every other state in the industrialized world is in fact a socialist state.

      Thatcher was a capitalist. Blair was a socialist.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Not sure where you get your definitions, @ChrisJawlka, but if the gov't, unitary or not, doesn't control the means of production and distribution, it, by definition, is not socialist.

      In the US, the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution essentially makes the US fit your definition of Unitary, doesn't it?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Blair was a Thatcherite, not a socialist. He redrafted the Labour party constitution to remove any vestiges of socialism from it.

    • ChrisJawalka profile image

      Chris Jawalka 4 years ago from Louisville, OH

      Every country I have listed above.... is a 'social democracy'. (a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means.) Unlike India and South Africa, who are already there.

      Tony Blair was a supporter of "Third Way", politics and social democratic adherents of it. The social democratic variant of the Third Way has been advocated by its proponents as an alternative to both capitalism and what it regards as the traditional forms of socialism (i.e. Leninism).

      @My Esoteric, I'm getting my definitions from the dictionary. Look it up. The U.S. is NOT a unitary democracy (or monarchy) they are a federal democracy. Big difference.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I think social democracy and socialism are two different animals entirely; one is a social system, the other is an economic system. Save for either Sweden, which you mentioned @Chris, or Norway, I forget which, each of the countries on your list moved decidedly away from economic socialism while maintaining social democracy. The country I can't remember is still an economic socialist country as well, for the most part in that the government owns or controls the means of production of most of the major industries.

      While your definition of social democracy is correct, it is not complete. If you read further, Wikipedia states: "It supports a mixed economy that opposes the excesses of capitalism such as inequality, poverty, and oppression of various groups, while rejecting both a totally free market or a fully planned economy" Basically, when you read the full definition, social democracy's goal is to work within a capitalist structure while trying to deliver most of the social benefits a socialist economic system is supposed to provide.

      I know the US is not unitary, but the Supremacy Clause comes very close to the definition you cite. In most instances, the Supremacy Clause says that when push-comes-to-shove, the Federal gov't will trump any State gov't; it is left to the Supreme Court to decide when that is properly applied under the rules of the Constitution.

      Further, none of the countries you mention are large enough to have "states" per se, just county equivalents; and even in the US relative to counties, the state is unitary.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      A very good video on this topic explains the NEED for higher taxes on the rich.... well done and fits this thread.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOsZSIcU9OM

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I listened to part of it @Neil, and liked the guest speaker. He put the issue of job creation right where it belongs, with the middle class, in a manner I have been struggling with to articulate.

      The host, especially after listening to another episode, is a bit hard to take with his halting delivery; I wouldn't be able to listen to him long even when I am agreeing with him.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you for the responses. I second My Esoteric's statement that social democracies and socialism are not the same thing, and also that a social democracy strongly resembles the "fair capitalism" we've discussed in above comments. Also, thanks for the link, Neil - will watch as soon as I find some time.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      It just occurred to me that even though Wikipedia is my major source of initial, and sometimes only, reference, it is still the product of users and not, for the most part, academics. Consequently, while the intention might be good, semantics can make all of the difference, i.e., the use of the term "socialist" in the definition of "social democracy". Do we really know if the author had in mind the economic definition of socialism or the social (fair) sense of socialism? The rest of his definition seems to suggest the latter.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Capitalism works because it rewards human freedom and human initiative. Socialism takes from those who work hard and gives to those who do not. As witnessed by the environmental and social calamity of the nascent industrial revolution, however, there has to be a happy medium, which I believe you have addressed.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Capitalism "worked" in the past.... now we have those with money making money on money while those who struggle with even brilliant inventions have to be lucky to avoid being squashed by those with money. Utilitarianism is the wave of the future.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      No Mel, socialism does not take from those who work hard and give to those who do not, that is capitalism.

      Socialism rewards those who work hard and penalises the leeches that live off the labour of other men.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      @Mel Carriere, Neil Sperling, John Holden - If the current wave of discussion is on whether capitalism or socialism takes more from the contributors, I believed that previous waves of discussion had already drawn a common-ground conclusion that both no-incentive socialist structures and unregulated capitalism end up inhibiting contributors. From there, I think the discussion began to center on whether revised socialism or regulated capitalism was the better structure. For the reasons that were provided, please look through the comments.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      That is the rub, isn't John, although I would rephrase your last sentence to "Socialism rewards those who work hard and penalizes those who profit unfairly off the labor of other men."

      Society, it seems to me, advances with the proper mix of "brain" and "brawn", as it were. If society were all brain, there would be plenty of innovation but nobody to implement the ideas. Similarly, if society were all brawn, we would be back at the hunter-gatherer stage of development for nobody would have invented agriculture.

      Those who innovate deserve to be rewarded for their genius and abilities to create, manage, lead, organize, or otherwise provide the system and structure to bring new ideas into production. That reward is profit.

      However, those same abilities create an opportunity to take advantage of others not so well versed in those areas because of their one fatal weakness, they need to eat. To eat, they need to work and therefore provide the brawn of production.

      The brains have two choices, 1) to be fair to the brawn because they realize they can't do a damn thing without the brawn or 2) to be unfair and screw the brawn because they can. Unfortunately, history shows that, for the most part, the brain has chosen the latter course.

      Thus we get back to Bob's point that gov't has to get involved to regulate capitalism in order to mitigate the harm the brain does to the brawn yet still provide enough profit incentive for the brain to keep innovating; which, in a fully socialist society the question is, why would the brains bother to innovate.

      (One answer to the that question is that in a true socialist society, the brains would continue to innovate, because that is what they do and like to do. I am one of those people, if my needs were well met regardless of what I did, I would keep doing what I currently do anyway, running a company, because I simply like doing it, it keeps me alive. Socialism doesn't mean providing for the lazy, by the way, @Neil, far from it. Having said all of that, I still think regulated Capitalism is still produces better results over the long run.)

    • profile image

      bob gee 3 years ago

      having seen socialism in the UK and what the Commies did in E.Berlin and E.Germany neither one works,will work or ever work and we need capitalism for 100 percent of Americans not just 1,2 or 5%.Karl Marx was wrong back then and it is still wrong now.we have too damn much government that does not work and we do need some gov't.Madison said and I am paraphrasing.if men were angels we would not need gov't

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      If men were Angels, then 0% gov't would be needed, that is true. Is it also true that if men were Devils, then 100% gov't would be needed? Given that men are neither Angels or Devils, then one would expect the amount of gov't would be directly proportional to how far men stray from Angelhood. In the large corporate world, I think men have strayed very far and as Capitalism moves away from reasonable gov't regulation, the further men stray from being Angels.

      You can say the same think by replacing the word "Capitalism" with the word "Socialism". Neither works in the extreme, but Capitalism works better than Socialism (because of incentive and practical human nature), when Capitalists are reasonably regulated.

    • profile image

      Student of Marxism 3 years ago

      I have to say I agree with a lot of the article. In the end, how well any system works for all of the people depends not only on the ability of society to solve its own problems but also on its capacity for empathy. What we know from studying marxism is that capitalism tends to destroy itself. The same is true for deformed bureaucratic states that never completed the socialist revolution. Any system that doesn't work inherently contains the seeds of its own destruction. The reason why I study Marx is that I admire his intellectual honesty, something I have never before nor since seen from an economist. His predictions are more accurate than Greenspan's ever were. What Marx created was a science of economics and politics that refuses to ignore history. The true marxist of today does not ignore the failures of Stalinism and Maoism and other failed communist states. We learn from it. The resistance from the bourgeois resource hoarders is always very high because those resources can always buy tremendous amounts of military power and media propaganda on that rainy day when the people begin to perceive the tremendous failure of the system to maximize good and advance humanity in knowledge and self-realization. At the same time they do not value human advancement WITHOUT profit motive, and so education is purposely suppressed and kept underfunded or overcostly to the vast majority of the population. It is right to criticize socialism as it has existed, and we absolutely do need to increase the amount of empathy, as well as personal responsibility and loyalty without corruption. What we should pursue is the best possible system for all people, but indeed any system that allows people to hoard resources is much more unfair than any 'tyranny of the majority' ever could be. Note that such a 'tyranny of the majority' has never actually been implemented permanently--it has always been subverted because, ironically, the majority of the population trusts the words of those who seek power without verifying that their actions match their words. They also easily fall for the cleverness of rhetoriticians. These are things we must collectively evolve past in order to keep tyranny in check. Any 'majority' which suppresses a minority is planting the seeds of its own destruction. But by studying history, and being intellectually honest about what works and what doesn't (though sometimes long term plans involve a little bit of suffering to achieve a greater end---and this makes impatient people change course before they should--often because that suffering was not honestly depicted and made understood as it should have been if those who implemented that policy and those who monitored its implementation were intellectually honest.)

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Very good comment @student, but where Marx has it wrong, as do those who believe in pure capitalism or socialism is the perfection of human nature. Humans have never acted, and I suspect never will, in a way for any three of of these systems to work the way they are intended. And, because each sits on the point of a needle, any imperfection in human nature will lead to a Soviet Union, a dysfunctional Socialist state, or a Capitalistic totalitarianism.

      None of them are robust because they rely on perfect human beings; which, obviously we are not. That is why our Constitution has worked so well; the founders knew we weren't perfect, so they built countervailing imperfection into the framework such that the net effect is a pretty good system. Right now, the Tea Party is trying to upset this robustness and put us back on the point of the needle; but I am pretty sure they to will fade away into history only to repeated in a couple of three generations.

    • profile image

      Henry 3 years ago

      Socialism does not mean "to take the wealth from those who work hard and transfer it those who don't". The name of that is... C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Totally right Henry.

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      Henry (and John) - I certainly agree that capitalism does do so when unregulated and when corrupted, but I also believe that, in a fair capitalism, those flaws can be addressed.

      Does your comment mean that you think even the moderate capitalism I described in the "Solutions in the Center" section will "take the wealth from those who work hard and transfer it to those who don't"? If yes, then please elaborate on the model's specific problems.

      I would also add that my primary critique of socialism is not that it "takes the wealth ---". My true concerns are in the later sections.

      Thanks for your comment, look forward to a discussion if you have further points to make.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Is there such a thing as moderate capitalism!

      Capitalism is predicated on the few living off the work of many. There is no way you can rearrange capitalism to make it otherwise.

      Apologists for capitalism like to admit that corporate capitalism is bad as if it were somehow detached from real capitalism - it is not- it is one and the same. They then confuse the matter further by insisting that systems that are not capitalist are capitalism.

      Look at mom and pop stores, they say, they are capitalists and they haven't got two brass farthings to rub together. THEY ARE NOT CAPITALISTS, they are engaged in commerce.

      OK they say, but you use money, don't you? Therefore you are a capitalist. Rubbish, that's like saying you own a gun therefore you must be a mass murderer, not even maybe but must be!

      Show me one form of moderate capitalism, even the greatest philanthropic capitalists were philanthropic with other peoples money.

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      @John - Sorry for delayed response. A bit busy now, so apologies if reply is a bit pithy.

      As discussed in a previous wave of conversation, a truly fair capitalism remains theoretical - much like a "true socialism" or "communism". The question I would pose is on what flaws you see in this theory. Unrealistic - why? Flawed - why? (Note: Perhaps capitalism's nature is not inclined to be statically just, and therefore must constantly be regulated - a bit off the point, though.)

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Truly fair capitalism remains an oxymoron.

      By its nature capitalism can never be fair - if it's fair its not capitalism.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, I must disagree with your statement "Capitalism is predicated on the few living off the work of many." It simply isn't true that capitalism is "predicated" on that. The free nature of unregulated capitalism allows that outcome because human nature is what it is. That is why unregulated socialism or communism will never work either, human nature won't allow it to.

      The difference between the three is that properly regulated capitalism has a built-in incentive to excel where as the other two require a change in human nature to achieve the same outcome.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      So nobody is motivated by a desire to help their fellow man, nobody is motivated by the desire to do a better job!

      In your world the only motivation is to make money at the expense of your fellow man!

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      It very interesting how you managed to twist "built-in incentive to excel" into "So nobody is motivated by a desire to help their fellow man, nobody is motivated by the desire to do a better job!"

      You are a good magician, John.

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      As always, we'll try to keep it civil. It seems to me, especially in context of our previous waves of discussion, that there are no big points of disagreement between us. What I see is a lack of agreement on definition.

      John - You seem to define capitalism as "an evil system in which certain people abuse commerce and (with one thing leading to another) end up a corrupt oligarchy stealing from the labors of the common man. The definition that I am (and I think My Esoteric is) using for capitalism is "a system in which commerce (the free market) operates and the means of production are privately owned". (@MyE - Please refine and correct as necessary.) I would argue that those two are not the same thing - let me know if you disagree, will elaborate.

      Let me rephrase my question more clearly: Do you think it impossible to regulate / address the flaws of "a system in which commerce (the free market) operates and the means of production are privately owned" in such a way as to retain the benefits of such a system (built-in incentives for work, individual liberty, safeguards against damaging variations of collectivism)? If you think yes, why? Is the socialist (as defined in hub) system superior? How, why? How to address its flaws?

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      My Esoteric, I assumed that your built in incentive was money.

      I was obviously wrong and therefore apologise.

      Perhaps you could explain to me what the built in incentive is then?

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Bob, your definition of capitalism is fine as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough.

      Just as an artist concerns himself with art and a flautist concerns himself with playing the flute, a capitalist concerns himself with accumulating capital.

      He isn't actually concerned about making a better mousetrap for the sake of making a better mousetrap, he is only concerned that a better mousetrap may make him more money.

      He isn't concerned with employing more people at a better standard, he wants to employ as few people as possible and at the lowest outgoing he can get away with.

      I'll ask you the same question that I asked My Esoteric - what built in incentives to work?

      Is fear of poverty a really sound incentive to work?

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, actually, the incentive is money, but not wages. It is your phrase "a capitalist concerns himself with accumulating capital." which translates into economic growth for the society. This happens on its own and doesn't have to be "engineered" by an overarching planning committee or a change in human nature.

      Now, left unregulated, capitalism is a bad thing as both Bob and I pointed out, in fact an extremely bad thing because some people are better at accumulation wealth than others and ultimately a few will have accumulated all the wealth there is; that happens in third world countries and is happening in America right now.

      The solution for America is proper regulation of primarily the financial industry and a Clinton or Johnson-type tax structure. Reagan upset the apple cart terribly.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      By-the-by, John, I absolutely agree with two of your statements:

      "He isn't actually concerned about making a better mousetrap for the sake of making a better mousetrap, he is only concerned that a better mousetrap may make him more money."

      and

      "He isn't concerned with employing more people at a better standard, he wants to employ as few people as possible and at the lowest outgoing he can get away with."

      With these caveats and comments.

      With few exceptions in modern times (transistors from Bell Labs, is one example) original innovation has resulted from the necessities of war or large programs such as NASA. Corporations will improve their products to stay ahead of the competition but true innovation is left to the government which the Right of our political spectrum no longer wants to fund.

      There is a great divide between small and large companies vis-a-vis employees. What you say regarding treatment of labor is generally true, but not always, of large corporations. But, as you get smaller in size, like my company with about 40 employees, things change drastically. For us, and many like us, employee welfare is high on our list of priorities. For example, during the Great Recession, we didn't lay off a single employee and kept giving small raises where deserved, except to the owners; we haven't had a raise in fine years. There are a lot of small companies out there like us; but as you grow bigger, you grow depersonalized.

      Further, in the land of giants, we have to give up some profit to hire more people to give better service in order to retain our niche in our industry.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Then you aren't a capitalist then are you, My Esoteric?

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Dyed-in-the-wool, but I am a realist and a pragmatist as well and understand its flaws and know what is needed to overcome them.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      I think you are falling into the trap of thinking that if you aren't a capitalist then you must be a socialist and if you aren't a socialist then you must be a capitalist.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Tell me, John, I am twice retired and then started my own successful partnership from which I am trying to retire from that now. I started the company to realize a profit. But under socialism, I would not have done that and America would not have a company in its midst who provides better client service than any other in our industry. I would have had no incentive to do that as I was already well off.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Bully for you, that still doesn't make you a capitalist.

      But if you were already well off, wouldn't have providing a better client service been incentive enough?

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Isn't capitalism and socialism antithetical to each other? At least the American socialist movement was started to combat unregulated capitalism, but then it gets gray. I think this was covered way up the chain but I believe capitalism is an economic system that grew out of liberalism which was in itself a reaction to class-based conservatism. Socialism is an economic-political class-based system which is at the same time a refutation of the political philosophies of liberalism and conservatism and the economic system of capitalism.

      That's my story and I am sticking to it.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      But that still doesn't mean that if you aren't a socialist you must be a capitalist does it?

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      No, not really, my thing was entrepreneurship (I am too old to do it again, so the stock market is next). The company that was formed was just a vehicle to satisfy my goal, but the payoff was profit. Since I was a small fish playing with giants in the drug testing industry, we had to do something the others didn't, and that was put our clients first. But that wasn't altruism, that was survival.

      Without the payoff of a nice profit for my blood, sweat, and tears in building the company, I would have just as well started taking cruises sooner and fed the tourist industry.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      No, you are right, there are more economic systems than just the two. You have the kind that exists in third world countries which are not capitalistic and certainly not socialistic. You have whatever China has which seems to blend socialism, communism, and capitalism into an oil and water mixture. But, in the end, the two biggest ones, I feel, are capitalism and socialism.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      But even that (supposed) great bastion of capitalism, the USA, has only been pure capitalism for a few decades in the 19th century, if at all.

      Most successful economies have been mixed economies.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Agreed, sort of. We were as close to a pure capitalist economy in the 19th century and early 20th as you can get. Then Keynes came along with his macroeconomic theory in 1930s which got the gov't involved, but not in a way that was heading toward a different economic system, it just modified capitalism to make it better. The Conservatives began moving America back to pure capitalism beginning in the 1980s which led, inevitably to the disaster of 2008.

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      AbannaShooppy 3 years ago

      wonderful post, very informative. I'm wondering why the other specialists of this sector don't understand this. You must continue your writing. I'm sure, you've a great readers' base already!

      Liaifeneuntee

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you for stopping by, AbannaShooppy.

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      Adam Wilson 3 years ago

      A year ago I stopped by and offered a concise definition of Marxist theory, frustrated by the numerous misconceptions and disagreements on matters of ideology and actual practice. Now that I am back, it is interesting to see how the discussion has progressed (surprised that this debate is still active after all this time).

      From my own Marxist/Anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint, I believe that the theories of Marx were a valuable insight to the workings of the global plutocracy. Marx had applied similar laws as those of the historical class warfare theory to that of economic production.

      Where Marx failed, however, was that his proposals for the establishment of a classless society were inherently flawed, working too much within the capitalist system from a bourgeois mindset and relying too heavily on the statist, short-sighted approach. In fact, I would only consider myself a Marxist in that I believe that his economical class warfare theories have a remarkable soundness about them. In practical application my ideas are more in line with those of Noam Chomsky, and the 19th century Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.

      The USA is certainly not a free-market, laissez-faire capitalist state. The government is controlled to a great extent by almost totalitarian corporations and the wealthy lobbyists appointed by them. It has actively funded and supported repressive regimes, especially in Latin America and the Middle East to further its monopoly over the world's natural wealth and resources. Notable examples being Nicaragua and Iran, both very resource rich countries in strategic locations.

      In the case of Iraq, the US and its puppet organisations installed Saddam, supported him during the worst of his excesses and then turned on him because he threatened US global hegemony by switching Iraq's oil sales to the Euro, resulting in 20% higher profits than selling oil by the dollar. After imposing brutal sanctions that starved the Iraqi people, destroying their culture, economy, and vibrant middle class, and doing no damage to the ruling clique whatsoever, they invaded.

      The American Dream is just that: a dream. The only place that the deluded people of the world see a free market is in the speeches of politicians. Likewise, any hopes of a true people's democracy withered away long ago. The US only serves to support the international entrenched oligarchy.

      The US government, which has always professed an adherence to 'fair free-market principles', has been highly interventionist, aiding its own industries with government interference. The US aircraft industry would not exist today if the US military had not placed exorbitant orders in the 50s. The military-industrial complex has always profited from the actions of the US government.

      Some may say that capitalism is 'rugged individualism in action' but a corporation is by no means 'individualist', essentially totalitarian in nature with strict top-down control. The power of trade unions, typically a channel for the working class to fight back against this oppression, are severely restricted in the US. They also lack a labour-based party to represent their interests on a national scale, achieving benefits only for their own members but not helping the nation as a whole.

      The result of this is that business interests can organise, but the common man cannot. In the American corporations, profits are privatised, but costs socialised.

      ... Whew. Another rant on the failings of corporatism from Adam Wilson. Feel free to disagree. Open debate is the way forward.

      I really should get round to getting myself an account.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Have you thought about considering yourself a Platoist, to coin a word. His Republic is basically the State you seek, I believe.

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      Peter Rand 3 years ago

      Okay lets address freedom. Is it freedom for a government to steal someones money to give it to an organization the person does not, or does it really doesn't matter, agree with. No that's taking away choice. Another thing under socialism is higher taxes. Higher taxes leave people with less money to buy goods. It also drives away corporations and business owner, it takes away the incentive for people to work because they know they can mooch off other people. When corporations leave jobs leave, when jobs leave the money in taxes leave, when those leave the government can no longer provide the "safety net" because it is bankrupt. I believe someone wanted an example of Capitalism at its finest? Singapore and Hong Kong. They are the smartest nation - Singapore, and place - Hong Kong, because technically Hong Kong is Chinese but it has one of the freest economies in the world. This is also where major corporations take roots because of the low low taxes, go guess what? the government gets the money that places like Europe or America, under the current administration we are socialist. It is like Ayn Rand said would happen in "Atlas Shrugged" which everyone should read. America was not made great because of socialism it was because of capitalism, yes some people got paid less than others, but the average wealth of Americans during the capitalist glory years. America was made great because we had a limited government who did eventually break up monopolies, which is in the DOI and United States CONSTITUTION, socialism never will work, communism never will work, never has, never will, it has been proven throughout history, as C.S Lewis Said, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” So socialist and communists and democrats and mainstream republicans you need to listen to him. And addressing poverty Benjamin Franklin said,I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” I mean the founding fathers were all capitalist that thought the government job was to make sure capitalism and competition was secured in America. Freedoms are being taken away from Americans daily, the government is getting more powerful and larger. Now remember in socialism you have the powerful getting rich, in capitalism yo have the rich getting powerful, at least the rich in capitalism needs the people to buy their products so that they can stay rich, the rich in socialism just tax more and make more restrictive laws that they say, "is good for the people." yeah I have heard that a lot. People need to grow up and see that working hard needs to pay off and quit providing stolen money to people who sit on their couches and play video games. Oh and Adam Wilson , I do not get what you mean by I agree with Marx but I am an Anarchist, they are the polar extremes, are you saying the political map should not be a line but a circle? I'm not understanding that.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      There is no question the question the political spectrum is a circle; Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were two of a kind politically although both would kill you if you said that to their face, @Peter Rand.

      Your very first statement gave you away as an anarchist

      -"Okay lets address freedom. Is it freedom for a government to steal someones money to give it to an organization the person does not, or does it really doesn't matter, agree with."

      For you, freedom (I assume you also mean liberty) is absolute, not to be infringed upon by any one or any organization for any reason. (I assume you do exclude illegal behavior, so long as you get to define what is illegal) Of course, at no time in history has this, or will this exist. The example of Singapore you offer is a poor one. While it does have a very free economy, relative to the rest of China, its people are not free by any means, nor do they have a say in what the government does with the taxes it collects, just like you hate.

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      calum 3 years ago

      "Without government interference, companies can and will quickly build up monopolies that can drive prices far beyond the product's value, rendering the free market system of supply-and-demand useless" you have clearly misunderstood economics, capitalism and what causes monopolies.

      "drive prices far beyond the product's value" some criticisms, firstly, why would this be beneficial to the companies? If something that used to be $2 now costs you $5 you would either stop buying it or, buy it from someone else, in both of these cases this is BAD for the company who now makes less money.

      "Without government interference, companies can and will quickly build up monopolies", it is only with government that companies CAN build monopolies; or at least monopolies who's aim is to inflate prices. These large companies naturally have more money, this is fine, but when you have politicians who can be bribed / lobbied this becomes a problem. The unfair regulation and taxes placed on small businesses, whilst large firms get tax cuts and preferential treatment (ever heard of Starbucks?) is what causes monopolies, not unfettered free market economies. The only time when a company can grow large is when it is beneficial for their client base; meaning that companies who CUT prices will succeed and gain larger profits than those who do the opposite.

      "very dangerous in a representative democracy" okay here you are criticizing the "extremes of capitalism" yet you talk about governance and taxation. As the only way that bribing politicians could benefit a company would be through tax cuts or publicly funded projects, (both which involve taxation) this is clearly not a FREE market economy; therefore your criticism of uncontrolled capitalism is in fact a criticism of CONTROLLED capitalism; the very thing you are purporting.

      "Some seem to think that taxation of any sort is unfair" it is not "unfair" it is theft; if a man walks up to you in the street, points a gun at you and asks for money, it is theft. Somehow when the government does the same thing it is not theft, somehow it is "necessary", who told you it was necessary? The man with the gun?

      " taxation is necessary (like mentioned above) to prevent the wealthy and corporations from monopolizing and owning the democratic process" Taxation allows the government to grow larger thus giving them more power, thus giving companies more incentive to "own" the democratic process, thus awarding them more control and therefore more tax cuts ect. If you somehow think that a government could get to the stage of introducing any tax without being lobbied and adding countless exemptions you are sadly mistaken. Any attempt to punish the rich through taxation will either fail or hurt the economy and the poorest.

      "The role of the government should be to work without bias for the happiness of all the people, and that will not happen if a section of the population has greater influence" a simple solution to this would be to have no government.

      You also seem to believe that capitalism leads to monumental wealth gaps, resulting in abject poverty for all but a few, how could this be possible? Who would work for a company if it meant that they had to live in abject poverty? (excluding those in developing countries; largely held back by governments and corrupt politicians) let me explain why these companies would fail; Say I sell a pizza for $10 and I pay a worker $5/per pizza sold, excluding material costs ect. I have made a profit of $5/pizza. Now another company comes along and sells pizzas for the same price but this time they pay their workers $7/pizza, the company still makes $3 for each pizza. who would you work for? this is one reason why it is almost impossible to make vast amounts of money whilst only benefiting yourself. It also would not benefit the rich if everyone lived in poverty, who would buy their products or produce the fancy stuff they want if everyone was payed unfair wages.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Both of these statements are right and wrong, depending on the scenario: 1) "Without government interference, companies can and will quickly build up monopolies that can drive prices far beyond the product's value, rendering the free market system of supply-and-demand useless" and 2) some criticisms, firstly, why would this be beneficial to the companies? If something that used to be $2 now costs you $5 you would either stop buying it or, buy it from someone else, in both of these cases this is BAD for the company who now makes less money."

      In any economic system, there are many variables which control a companies ability to function in a market place. They deal with labor, equipment, financial, resource, distribution, and a host of other requirements. Some are easy to acquire, some are much harder.

      If you are going to grow and sell corn, it is hard to monopolize that market, so statement number 1 is clearly wrong. But, to search for, produce, and distribute oil in America is extremely difficult which is why Standard Oil was able to create both a horizontal and vertical monopoly by 1908; thereby controlling the market in all respects, proving statement number 2 wrong. That is why President T. Roosevelt busted Standard Oil up.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      @callum: Thanks for your stopping by. The most interesting question that you've gotten me to think upon is, "Does gov. regulation hurt small businesses more than it helps them, because big businesses are more able to influence the political process (lobbies, etc.) and obtain advantages like tax breaks?"

      My initial thoughts are that this is a good point on the vulnerabilities of regulation, but that flaws that need address in our current reg system doesn't affect the need for something that breaks monopolies. Thanks as always, My Esoteric, for your explanation - makes clear how monopolies are very possible when the cost of entering into competition is high.

      In response to your (callum's) point on wealth gaps: they would certainly be possible in economies that are an employer's market, when those who hire have plenty of options of who to hire. This is one of the reasons labor in China, for example, is so cheap. Another possibility is when - not imaginably - major corporations who control large amounts of jobs have an effective "monopoly" on jobs and can decide their own wages without significant competition. The underlying problem is not enough jobs.

      And lastly, I'll respond to your point on "no government". I'm unsure if you actually meant "no government" at all, but if you did, I would point to the things we need large scale cooperation to do (roads, factory production, international trade, etc.) - there, we need a governing body with enough scope and power to mediate the interests of people quite isolated from one another. Can't really endorse anarchy.

      Thanks again, calum, look forward to hearing further thoughts.

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      @Adam Wilson (3 months late :D ): Actually, I agree with most of you've written. American capitalism is broken, and the American Dream does seem tattered. Our point of disagreement lies in our thoughts on solutions. You call yourself Anarcho-syndicalist, and I would assume that you consider yourself quite to the left on the capitalism/socialism spectrum. I, on the other hand, would prefer to see our system remain capitalist, but with more reasonable regulation. A fair capitalism, as noted in the hub, would provide steady ladders of opportunity to anyone in the society - I'm thinking excellent public education, social safety net, progressive income tax, estate tax, and lately I've been mulling over maximum salaries and restrictions on (unproductive) hoarded savings.

      Excuse me for responding so extremely late - I haven't been active on this site for a while and my email notifications seem to be inconsistent.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      The problem is though, Bob, that what you describe as fair capitalism isn't capitalism.

      Capitalism isn't predicated on steady ladders of opportunity for all, not excellent public education for all. It relies on keeping most people uneducated (educated well enough to make money for somebody else is not well educated) and deprived of opportunity.

      Capitalism isn't three centuries old but the world worked for many thousands of years without capitalism. We need a third way which takes the best from the old and adds it to the best of the new.

      That is not capitalism.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Technically, I think John is right. Capitalism, per se, isn't supposed to provide anything other than a format where the means of production and distribution are privately owned and individuals can participate in the marketplace with the idea of earning a profit based on competition between participants and production of goods and services is determined by supply and demand.

      As already mentioned earlier, without regulation capitalism must fail because, over time, money and power will concentrate in the hands of a few, thereby barring individuals from participating in the marketplace and destroying the supply/demand mechanism. Ownership of the means of production and distribution, while still private, will be limited to a few privileged individuals or corporations.

      How much or how little capitalism is regulated has nothing to do with capitalism itself, but the philosophical orientation of the politicians. Classical liberals, such as libertarians, will not regulate and let capitalism fail; conservatives and active-state liberals will regulate and save capitalism, just for different reasons and in different ways. In all cases, at least until capitalism self-destructs in some scenarios, it is still capitalism.

      What Bob Z is offering are ideas for active-state liberals to intervene to save capitalism from itself.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Why does capitalism need saving from anything?

      Saving capitalism from itself is rather like saving slavery from itself, meaningless and contradictory.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Because capitalism is the economic system of those who believe in the Hobbes-Lockean idea of individualism, you know Life, health, Liberty, and Property and all that jazz. Properly managed, capitalism is the most robust of all economic systems with the most potential. That isn't saying socialism doesn't work, there are plenty of examples that it does. But, in the long-term, a correctly regulated capitalist system will do better.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      But capita;ism doesn't allow for individualism, life health property and all that jazz apart from a select few.

      True, it has the most potential for oppressing the most people but that is not a very desirable goal is it?

      The world worked well without capitalism and without socialism. Socialism was born of the greed of capitalism.

      Kill oppressive capitalism and you kill the need for socialism.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      But that is where the "properly regulated" comes in. It is human nature, once someone has an advantage to unfairly press that advantage until they have it all. There are no checks and balances in capitalism to counteract greed and avarice; in fact it provides positive feedback for them until it self-destructs.

      Proper regulation counter greed and avarice, providing the negative feedback needed to keep the system stable and functioning properly. It is still capitalism, the means of production and distribution are still in private hands, production is set by supply and demand, individuals are free to enter and leave only limited by the talent and resources; none of that has changed.

      What has changed is you prevent the Bernie Madoff's and Citibanks and AIGs from wreaking havoc while they chase the next dollar.

      Actually capitalism was in reaction to conservativism and the monarchy, it followed the age of enlightenment; socialism was born at the same time, e.g., the French Revolution.

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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      John, imagine a society in which -

      - Public education was excellent (and included basic economics and modern world politics - effective democracies and even republics need educated constituencies... but I digress).

      - Free speech was facilitated - think limits on campaign contributions, bypassing the publishing industry's media with personal publishing (think Internet), etc.

      - A social safety net (housing, food, healthcare, utilities) and "ladders" of opportunity (education, job training, reducing unemployment) existed.

      - Regulation prevents the wealth gap from widening too much (Regulation like maybe a progressive income tax, estate tax, maximum income (?), restrictions on unproductive savings (?), etc.).

      - The free market of supply and demand is regulated with consumer education (labeling, removal of dangerous products and false advertising), restrictions on monopolies, and probably many other things that I'm not qualified to write about.

      A capitalist society with all of these would still be fully capitalist. It wouldn't be the capitalism that we are used to, but it would technically still be capitalist - hence my use of the term "fair capitalism" rather than socialism, even though some Americans might consider my ideas quite leftist.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Bob,

      While I agree with most of your points, I think many are independent of capitalism itself. For example, education (believe it or not, in my day, I was taught those things), free speech, social safety net, and consumer education are all independent of the economic system but indicative of whether we have a government that cares about its citizens welfare or one that doesn't. All of those I absolutely agree with.

      Only your ideas on the wealth gap and taxes bother me a little and do have some impact on the capitalist system, primarily the maximum income and restrictions on unproductive savings (I presume you mean corporate)

      The progressive income tax and estate tax are direct means to redistribute wealth. I have less problem with the progressive tax than I do the estate tax because I think there is a price that must be paid for the unearned benefits gained as your wealth, and therefore power increase. This is, however, America, and a maximum income simply doesn't work for me. Do I think there are other ways to stop executives from simply taking the profits of a corporation and keeping it for themselves while depriving others the benefit of their own labors, absolutely, but that isn't the way.

      Nor is the idea of unproductive savings. It is not in the interest of a company to be sitting on large hordes of cash, as they are today, because the opportunity cost of doing so is high. But, given today's political climate with the Right doing everything it can to quash growth so that Obama won't look good, the cost of doing something may be higher if the choice they make about which way the gov't is going to move is wrong.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Bob, but what is so desirable about a system that places all the capital in the hands of the few? That requires so many to live in relative poverty while the few enjoy all the riches?

      If you change the system so that people are broadly educated, so that free speech is entrenched, ladders of opportunity exist for all and everything else you want fro society, then you no longer have capitalism.

      Believe me, it isn't a case of capitalism or socialism and nothing else, there are other ways. Remember, capitalism, like socialism, are both relatively new concepts.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, you keep focusing on "a system that places all the capital in the hands of the few". You assume that is a given, when it is not. Granted that is a possible outcome, but so is despotic Communism from socialism. The point of regulating capitalism is to keep capital in the hands of those who earn it.

      And how does your second paragraph do away with capitalism? It doesn't affect it one way or another; none of those things takes away from or adds to the fact that the means of production and distribution are held in private hands.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      ME. I wonder who owned the businesses before capitalism?

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      The King

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      I expected a serious answer to my question!

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      It was, what economic system existed in say 1600? Whatever the monarch, be it a king, pope, emperor, or what have you wanted or allowed. From 1600 back, wasn't it basically a feudal system of one sort or another virtually worldwide?

      I am not sure what the Greeks had in the 500 B.C.s, that might have been a bit different, but beyond that ...

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Simple answer is that businesses were privately owned, but by the people who ran them. No faceless accountants with little or no experience of the job. No faceless shareholders who would abandon a company as quickly as eat their lunch when the going got tough.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      If you are talking about early America, say pre-1810 or 20, yes, that was the way it mostly, but not entirely was. Not so England though, they were at the beginning of their industrial revolution.

      Nevertheless, the American system, even as you describe it as a cottage industry, was very much a capitalistic economy. The means of production and distribution were privately owned; production was set by conflict between supply and demand, etc, etc.

      The same was true in England, except that labor was becoming or had become oppressed and the monarchy still had much influence in the operation of the economy and private business although I don't think it owned it.

      I don't deny or even disagree with your cynicism about the callousness of modern day corporate structure. I do need to note that that attitude does not necessarily trickle down to small businesses, including my own. As a rule, they are much more like, in temperament, what you describe.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      You are confusing commerce with capitalism. They are not the same.

      Owning your own business does not make you a capitalist, owning somebody else's business does make you a capitalist.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 3 years ago from California, USA

      I'm a little busy and may not have time to respond in depth until next week, but let me just clarify the definitions that I (and, I think, My Esoteric) am using. From the hub: "To save time and to prevent later confusion, I'm going to first make clear what I mean by "capitalism" and "socialism"… What I mean by capitalism is a free market (governed by supply and demand) and private property, including the ownership of the means of production. What I mean by socialism is public ownership on varying levels, but always the means of production. "

      It's because I'm using this definition that that I keep saying a fair capitalism - a society with private ownership of the means of production that also provides the ladders of opportunity we discussed and economic regulation - possible. And that fair capitalism (emphasis on "fair" - not just any capitalist society) is better than socialism because of the incentives it provides the productive, the individualism it allows, and the fact that it avoids the easily abused centralized governing power necessary for socialism.

      Would love to hear your further thoughts, but just know that I may not respond immediately. Of course I hope that the conversation will continue energetically while I'm gone.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Have fun with whatever you are doing Bob.

      No, I don't think there is any confusion John, not on my part anyway. "Commerce" isn't an alternative to any of the "...isms"; commerce is simply commerce, it doesn't care what the "ism" is. Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of commerce:

      "Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that are in operation in any country. "

      It is the legal, economic, political, social, and cultural systems adopted by a political unit which defines the "ism" that unit's commerce is operating in. In early American history, commerce was conducted under the rules of capitalism as Bob described.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Bob, your definitions are too simplistic.

      I'll try to illustrate my thinking with a couple of examples,

      Example one.

      Guy I knew had a business, he'd only employ the long term unemployed. He wouldn't take any profit from the business preferring to reinvest in employment opportunities for the long term unemployed.

      He owned the business out right, no mortgages or loans and he refused several very large offers for his business because it would mean him losing control.

      Example two.

      My father worked for a large corporation. it was listed on several stock exchanges around the world. Anybody who could afford it could buy a piece of the company and shareholders meetings had considerable input into the way the company was run.

      By your very lose definition the first example is a capitalist business whilst the second is a socialist business. I think you'll agree that that is a little far fetched.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      ME if your stuck for want of an ~ism, how about commercialism?

      Commercialism is actually a much more accurate description of the system you favour.

      The formation of the USA pre-dates capitalism.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I had to look that one up, but again I go back to Wikipedia:

      "Commercialism is the application of both manufacturing and consumption towards personal usage, or the practices, methods, aims, and spirit of free enterprise geared toward generating profit.

      Commercialism can also be used in a negative connotation to refer to the possibility within open-market capitalism to exploit objects, people, or the environment for private gain for the purpose of generating profit.

      As such, the related term "commercialized" can be used in a negative fashion, implying that someone or something has been despoiled by commercial or monetary interests.

      Commercialism can also refer, positively or negatively, to corporate domination. Commercialism is often closely associated with the corporate world and advertising, and often makes use of advancements in technology."

      What Bob and I are talking about is who owns the means to production and distribution and what drives how much is produced. In capitalism, it is private ownership and, depending on whether you are along the Classical or Keynesian economist spectrum, production is dependent on supply, supply-demand, or demand; and maximizing profit is the motivator.

      With non-capitalistic economic systems (which are generally some form of socialism, but doesn't have to be), there is some degree of public ownership of the means of production and distribution and how much is produced is, to some degree, dependent on bureaucratic decision-making. Maximizing profit may or may not be a motivator.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      What are shareholders if not members of the public?

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Shareholders are private individuals owning shares of a company. "Public" is when the People, i.e., government, oligarchy, or monarchy own part or all of the company.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      No, people are people, not the government, oligarchy or monarchy, none of which have any part in the workers owning the means of production.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 3 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, Public ownership means ownership on behalf of the general public. According to Wikipedia:

      The organisation of the public sector (public ownership) can take several forms, including:

      Direct administration funded through taxation; the delivering organisation generally has no specific requirement to meet commercial success criteria, and production decisions are determined by government.

      Publicly owned corporations (in some contexts, especially manufacturing, "state-owned enterprises"); which differ from direct administration in that they have greater commercial freedoms and are expected to operate according to commercial criteria, and production decisions are not generally taken by government (although goals may be set for them by government).

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Ah! Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge.

      Actually, if you read the entry in its entirety it isn't so bad-cherry picking can get anything to say anything you want.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I did, and picked out the relevant part. Do you have a different part that changes the meaning of what I presented?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      No, you picked out one of many relevant parts. State socialism is not the only proposed form of socialism and apart from for major industries, not one preferred by me.

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      You still didn't show me an opposing relevant part.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      ... ; that challenges my point that "commercialism" and "commerce" aren't systems of ecomomic activity. Commercialism, as I read the definition is simply a subset of capitalism while capitalism and socialism are complete economic systems within the general category of commerce.

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      John Holden 3 years ago

      Really ME, you've found the description of socialism, you read it, don't expect me to do your reading for you.

      Rather than commercialism being a subset of capitalism I would describe capitalism as being a subset of commercialism. Capitalism is an oligarchical system.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Which tells me you can't find a definition which disagrees with mine.

      Where, in the definition of capitalism, does it mention oligarchy or even suggest that is the intended outcome? I don't see it there and I really doubt you do either.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Take note of the part of your response where you say

      "The organisation of the public sector (public ownership) can take several forms, including:"

      which more than suggests that the form you go on to quote isn't the only form. I'm not inclined to quote huge chunks of Wiki or any other source.

      I don't think any form of oligarchy states explicitly that that is the intention.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      Actually ME, I've just realised that the Wiki you quote is not one about socialism, it is about the public sector.

      Most capitalist systems embrace some public sector ownership of sectors that are not profitable. Government, for example, could be said to be in the public sector.

      Have a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism it should clarify things for you, paying particular attention to - ""Social ownership" may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them"

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      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Yes, that link is one of the sources I use in my hubs on economic systems. The key is "social ownership" rather "private" or "individual" ownership of the means of production.

      Further, "A socialist economic system is based on the organisational precept of production for use, meaning the production of goods and services to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs where objects are valued based on their use-value or utility" while a capitalist economy is "structured upon the accumulation of capital and production for profit."

      Both are commerce and commercialism is one, but not the only, methodology for accumulating wealth and making a profit.

      Common ownership, btw, doesn't mean a bunch of private shareholders who have bought into a company hoping to make a profit via dividends and stock appreciation. Instead, it is a form of public ownership with the goal of serving the public good and not profit making.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      It's hard to get at the point you are making. It appears to be that serving private profit is more desirable than serving the public good!

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      John, you just hit the nail on the head. although the word "serving" doesn't quite fit with "profit". The idea is that in the process of earning profits for one's individual benefit, it "automatically" serves the "public" good because, in theory, the only way to do that is satisfy the "demand" created by the public. If you produce something the public doesn't want at a price they can afford, they won't buy it and you go broke.

      The problem is, and one reason socialism is popular, is "in theory" doesn't work and needs help, which is what Bob's and my point about regulation is. We also think believe that at the end of the day, "earning a profit" is a greater motivator to 1) entrepreneurship and 2) innovate than "serving the public good" is. As a consequence, in the long run, this leads to a higher potential for growth.

      Throughout history, this has generally been true, but not recently, mainly because regulation has broken down.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 3 years ago

      But why does earning profits for personal gain automatically serve the public good?

      Why is it in the public good to provide a new, more expensive computer operating system or a new mobile phone?

      Why is it in the public good to create an insatiable desire for newer bigger

      must have things that don't actually do much new?

      The demand isn't created by the public, the demand is created by the providers of the new gizmo.

      Earning a profit is not high on the scale of reasons for innovation. Most of the great innovations of the 20th century were not motivated by profit but from a desire to innovate funded by private individuals, governments and universities. Capitalism is very good at picking up these ideas and profiting by them, not so good at innovating.

      Why is growth good? Especially when that growth is not across the board but when experienced by one sector of society at the expense of another?

      By the way, capitalism and regulation are anathema, if you say regulation should be apart of capitalism, you are arguing against capitalism.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I was alive in the 1950s and have some memory of the convenience of living then. I was alive in the 1960s and have a clear memory of living in that and subsequent decades since. I remember doing accounting by pencil and paper. I remember life without the computer, then I remember life without the Internet. I also remember trying to do my work with a dial-up modem working at 14K.

      I know what life is like today and am extremely happy for the growth.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      By-the-by, I started reading Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century", all 650 pages.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 2 years ago

      We may have gained some things My Esoteric, but equally we have lost much.

      I'm not sure that it has been a fair trade.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I really wonder if that is true, even considering nuclear power. Everything I listed was all technological. What hasn't improved is the social side of humanity; it simply remains the same. Humans are the assholes we have always been.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 2 years ago

      Rather than not improving the social side of life has declined, and by social neither of us are talking about a drink with friends or going to a party, least I'm not, I'm talking about how we interact and that has seriously declined since we were young.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Yeperoo

    • profile image

      AwedReader 2 years ago

      Sir, or bro, or any respect I can convey,

      I usually dislike blogs for the lack of thinking, and the blatantly obvious one-sided and unintelligent thinking they display.

      But your blog is the very first one I have liked in my whole life. It is so balanced, so comprehensive in its logic, and of course it might not be perfect, but you try so hard to stay reasonable and truly concerned not for political righteousness, but for the good of humanity.

      So I really wanna just say I respect you so much. I don't have that many people who think similarly as me (balanced, logical, with a moral set centered on common humanity and God that I think should always be prioritized), but you're one of the few that I have read, including prominent authors and Internet writers. So props, friend.

      Maybe we might meet each other, if you happen to go to UC Berkeley. But once again, respect to you, and I really hope you become a legitimate and public academic voice that can really influence the public, or at least some figure for public good.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 2 years ago from California, USA

      You're really too kind to leave such a comment, AwedReader. Keep on striving for reason over vitriol, and I'll try to do the same, eh? Thanks for stopping by.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      For what its worth, I just started a 36-course lecture series on "Thinking About Capitalism" by Jerry Z. Muller, from the Catholic University; hope it is interesting.

      And I am almost finished with Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century" ... what a book!

    • Codegrad profile image

      Codegrad 2 years ago from Piedmont, Oklahoma

      Is there such a thing as "blog-binging"? If so, I just did it. I spent the last hour reading your post and every single comment that followed. Like Awed, I am truly impressed by the the, mostly, civil discussion and logical positioning of arguments in your dialog. I have to give special thanks to Bob, My Esoteric and John for their insights, opinions and general participation in this discussion. I found you all to be very intelligent, articulate and respectful.

      Prior to this reading, I only knew enough about capitalism, socialism and communism to repeat the popular sentiment that is typically expressed by the ignorant (no offense intended... I am one). But like many, I am unsatisfied with the economic and political system(s) in place today. And so I search for a resolution or at least understanding of the problems we face. My search continues of course. But I am encouraged by the realization that such different points of view can be discussed in a civil and respectable manner. Thank you to all who were willing to express their opinions and remain cordial and open to the opinions and arguments of others.

      I look forward to reading further posts from any of the three of you that I mentioned above.

      Take care!

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 2 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      I believe a new system yet to be dreamed of will emerge from the economic mess the world is in today. The internet has bridged cultures, religions and economic status's and people everywhere are waking up to the basic reality we all want the same thing. To live happy!

      As I wrote in my hub "Back To Zero" ... I truly believe a new system is growing..... but not from the top down. Rather it will emerge from the uniting on the bottom.... and the oddest thing is - it does not have to be and likely wont be a planned/staged event. Rather, the new system will evolve. It will evolve from the gradual connecting of individuals who do all they can to be the vibrational energy of the change that is happening. ..... and it IS happening.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
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      Bob Zermop 2 years ago from California, USA

      @Codegrad: Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm no longer active on HubPages and am currently on hiatus from writing in general (new city, new job, plenty of work to do), but I occasionally log in just to see what's new here. Glad to hear that our conversation here inspired you; it inspired me too. Don't stop thinking, eh?

      I'll second your thanks to John and My Esoteric, and I also want to extend that all of my commenters. Honestly, it made and makes me smile to see productive, interesting, civil discussion in at least this little corner of the Internet.

    • profile image

      N.Man 2 years ago

      Great article. only comments section without hate I've seen all day.

      Anyway, I support capitalism as the power is always among the people. How, you ask? Well, if people do not like a company's practices, they can simply choose not to buy that company's products. This will require many people working together, but ignoring a company's products can cripple any company, be it the dollar store or Wallmart.

      In my opinion, communism can never work as the government has too much power over people's lives. Power breeds corruption, and ultimate power is an invitation to the government telling them to take over and rule like kings. Many unwanted and useless products can also be made, too specific or too general for the country to use.

    • profile image

      ThankGod Ukachukwu 2 years ago

      Why do Socialist leave out the part where individual enterprise is used to build businesses and corporations from scratch and they expect such corporations to to now be handed over to the workers to be owners? Most of the progress the world has made has come from capitalist state because socialism and communism inhibits individual enterprise. The human being is born as a free person capable of achieving greatness sometimes with the support of society or otherwise. Socialism leaves out the basics of developing a society and concentrates on how to share and manage wealth. A society can allow capitalism to enable its people to push the boundaries of their abilities as God has enabled them to achieve giant feats while society ensures that it does not neglect those who are less fortunate. I believe that such systems would be better for the world.

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      Diamond07 22 months ago

      This article tells a big lie. America is not nor has ever been a democracy. It is a Republic. When Franklin was asked what government they decided on he answered, "A Republic, if you can keep it." A Republic solves all the issues. It allows for equal representation while at the same time having a constitution with some very basic laws in place that can not be superseded (unless of course you are Obama and unconstitutionally create law through the Supreme Court.) Our country, now more than ever, needs to listen to the wisdom of our forefathers: "To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and 
that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association -- the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." - Thomas Jefferson
, Source: Note in Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816. A limited government gives the people, any kind of person, the ability to enterprise and compete for market share. It allows for an uneducated Sheldon Adelson to create a multi-billion dollar empire off of $200. It allows an immigrant with an 8th grade education named Kirk Kerkorian to build a $15 billion dollar empire. Free enterprise allowed for a college-dropout named Steve Jobs to create one of the most powerful technology companies in the world. Regulations, big government, big taxes, and ultimately government control is not passionate, it is destructive. If you have not visited China yet, I would urge you to see socialism in person. If you have any kind of heart, you will realize that America's children should never suffer in poverty like that. They will not have to if we fight for the America and the 'Republic for which it stands.'

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Everybody knows America is not a democracy, in the Greek sense. Almost everyone knows America is a federation and a Republic. Nevertheless, it is simply common knowledge that when people call America a democracy, they don't mean it in a literal sense. It is just like calling a copier a Xerox machine, even it wasn't make by Xerox[ same thing.

      Assuming they or their fathers had "equal industry and skill" yet find themselves without for no cause of their own, what do you think Jefferson would say then? I don't think there is anyone who disagrees with the idea that someone who refuses to help themselves does not deserve help from others; clearly Jefferson doesn't. But, what if that is NOT the case and someone still needs help?

      In a PERFECT world, "A limited government gives the people, any kind of person, the ability to enterprise and compete for market share" would true. But, the world has never been even close to perfect, has it. Take your first phrase, "any kind of person" and apply it to blacks throughout our history. Granted, it is easier for blacks to succeed today than it was yesterday; but there is no comparing the opportunity whites have relative to blacks. Same is true for women.

      Please don't try to argue that a few black supermen actually did excel as proof that all blacks are supermen and can do the same thing. That is simply false analogy.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 22 months ago

      The USA has an elected government.

      In what way is that not a democracy?

      Why do you think that being a republic precludes democracy?

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Democracy, originally, was rule by the majority with no thought given to minority rights. This is how the initial Greek democracy was configured; all decisions were made by a "committee of the whole community"; meaning ALL Athenian "citizens". At this time, 1) citizens were only males who could serve in the military (required) and 2) voting was compulsory.

      Majority rule is a fundamental requirement of a democracy. The American gov't is configured to protect minority rights and have rules to prevent both "tyranny by the majority" as well as "tyranny by the minority". Having said that, the House is configured to as close to a true democracy, majority-rule as we get. The Senate, on the other hand, is not run as a democracy. Neither are the powers invested in the executive and judicial branches democratic.

      What America really has is a democratic House, an aristocratic Senate, and a monarch for a President; all of whom can be checked by the Supreme Court. This is a far cry from majority rule.

      Having said all of that, the definition of democracy has obviously moved away from majority rule to simply "elected" gov't.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 22 months ago

      If majority rule is a fundamental requirement of a democracy then there is no democratic government anywhere in the world.

      Your example proves that this was not so even with the original concept-males who could serve in the military would not be a majority.

      Like all other democracies you have representative democracy rather than direct democracy.

      I did not realise that the Senate in the USA was not elected, I thought that like your president, it was!

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 22 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Yep, you are right, pure democracy died with the fall of Athens to Sparta; and in that case, it was limited to "citizens".

      Didn't say the Senate wasn't elected (which for quite awhile in our history, it wasn't); I said it doesn't operate as a democracy. For that matter, neither was or is the President; he, and maybe she next year, is elected by the majority of "electors" which may or may not be based on the popular vote ... technically. You might find this interesting regarding how we elect Presidents - http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral...

      George Washington was

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 13 months ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Humans are amazing creatures. We have the ability to create anything.

      We've tried

      1- communism and found it destroys incentive to perform

      2- Socialism and found the tax burden upon the working class unbearable

      3- Capitalism and watched the wealth gap between Rich and Poor widen to the point Capitalism has become wealth control akin to communism.

      We can create a system never been tried. Thrivalism

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 13 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Actually, we did have a working model of capitalism before Conservatives came along and ruined it again. Capitalism works nicely . .. IF the forces behind its natural tendency to destroy itself are regulated.

      Conservatives, illogically and ironically want capitalism to fail in their drive to get back to a laissez-faire economy.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 12 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Well written.

      Extremism in any system, whether social, economical or religious is NEVER a good thing.

      That said, here in the US of A, we have, in theory, a capitalistic system, but it is not cut and dried or pure.

      The public roads and schools, paid for by tax dollars and funds doled out across the land by the government for the good of all are a socialistic feature. Likewise for fire and police services, as well as a few others such as public libraries.

      Many people today act as if socialism is a dirty word. But it is not. It is extremism that causes problems. How many of those people would prefer to pay bills from the police and fire departments for assistance rendered? How about being charged per book borrowed from the library? If schools were on a pay-to-learn basis, then the public schools would become like private schools, with many unable to afford education. This would return us to the days when only the wealthy were educated.

      Education is already deteriorating, thanks to so many budget cuts to the schools, so we are already a foot or two down the road of having an illiterate, uninformed society. No, socialism is not a bad word, and we need to recognize that a blend is best for all.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 12 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Very well put, DzyMsLizzy. What many people forget is that capitalism is an political/economic system rather than a social system. True socialism is the full Monte, an economic system coupled with a social system wrapped up in a political system.

      "Synthetic" socialism can be a combination of many ideas, including capitalism.

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      AirChuck 8 months ago

      “The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.”

      Thomas Jefferson.

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      My Esoteric 8 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Yet Jefferson didn't follow is own advice when he was President when the rubber met the road. Also, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Madison, and most of the writers of the Constitution had a much different opinion.

      Further, in TJ's quote it says "... the State governments [entrusted] with the civil rights, law, ..." What happens when the States break that trust with its citizens as has happened often?

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      sheabernard 4 months ago

      I wish people would stop pointing to Western Europe as an example of how socialism works.

      In Western Europe, socialism survives because it piggybacks on capitalism’s successes. It’s parasitic. It battens itself off the blood of the entrepreneur, the innovator, the investor, the shopkeeper, the go-getter. Truth be told, most of Western Europe is a mix of isms. There’s some ownership of the means of production, but more control thereof. Welfare and social insurance abound. There’s high taxation and redistribution of wealth, but not so much that the capitalist golden goose is killed off entirely.

      The E.U. is the exemplar of the corporatist model with brushstrokes of socialism. It seeks to obliterate borders among its member states, giving it a quasi-internationalist aim. It acts to erase ancient, embedded differences in culture among its subjects. And subjects they are, which may be the E.U.’s undoing, other than trying to make Spaniards, Germans, and Germans, Frenchmen. (Or everybody Germans.)

      Among the E.U.’s pols and bureaucrats, smugness reins; an odor of superiority hangs in the air… imperiousness with a veneer of democracy. Better that the E.U.’s Pooh-Bahs ape the old Orwellian Eastern Bloc and Asian pure socialists who appreciated grandiose democratic pretense.

      As we’re seeing with the evolution of the E.U., and now are seeing creep into the U.S. -- fascism, corporatism, communism, and socialism are systems given to hierarchy, imposition, and subordination of rights. They claim to be for the people while subjecting them to the will and aims of elites. Socialism is no less prone to tact undemocratic. (Please don’t gainsay with Switzerland or Scandinavia, any more than citing pure democracy in ancient Athens. Scandinavian socialism is about as applicable to the rest of the world as is Chicago machine politics are to Stockholm

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      My Esoteric 4 months ago

      Other than just being picky, there isn't very much I can quibble with much of what you write, sheabernard.

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      Gina Consolini R.N. 4 months ago

      I totally agree with you. With healthcare the system under socialism would be very bad.

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      My Esoteric 4 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I am not sure if there is any Western country with a totally gov't controlled healthcare system (what I think you mean by socialism); maybe England. Do most, if not all advanced nations have some form of single payer systems alongside private alternatives ... yes they do; America is the exception.

      Do the citizens of these countries like their system? Yes, for the most part, they do (again with the possible exception of England)

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      NachoLord 3 months ago

      What would it hurt if in the socialism side of things, there were tiers of wealth distribution, such like what already exists.

      However each job has its own range of wages, also much like what is seen today for the MOST part.

      The production could still be the idea of the citizen, and they could be given an advanced job in whatever idea they gave as a thank you from the government. The highest positions could be maxed out at say $400k a year. Just an example of an amount. That's more than enough to get by on, and you're getting paid well for the work you put in. And any large profits are seen by the government itself to redistribute and balance poorer parts of the nation.

      It allows the government more freedom to use on safety nets and providing toward be general happiness of the society along with maintenance and federal wages. It puts more money toward education, as this is very important and America is slacking in it.

      Doctors get paid a wealthier amount, because they worked harder and longer to learn and develop their trade. The abundance of tax dollars can pay for the entirety of people's educations. If you don't perform well in school, you can still advance in the labor force that doesn't require as much education. Speaking of advancement, each tier has advancements of their own, supervisor/manager type things and so on.

      Everyone still uses the money they earn to buy and own their stuff. Like social security, but on an individual level, implement a retirement plan for everyone. Healthcare can work the same way, and we can start making larger strides in science and technology again.

      Nobody really complains about taxes because it's set across the board, and that's possible because the production belongs to the government.

      Small businesses are still possible and owned by citizens, and there's a safety net for that as well. Government only owns the production portion of that.

      It's hard to craft an entire government on my own in the comments section of soapboxie.com. But I agree that socialism and capitalism depend on the lack of extremes.

      I'm confusing myself with the many directions this could go, so I'll go to my biggest point now.

      Earlier in comments, I read someone say that Western Europe was piggybacking off of capitalism, and that might be where we find the most balance for a while. Capitalism and socialism are like sisters that can't seem to get along, but on a smaller scale, such like the average citizen, you wouldn't see a difference from day to day life. Teachers would still be paid like teachers get paid, except better because that's what the government could invest in. Doctors still get paid as doctors, though not extreme because no reason to pay back debt and no healthcare issue. IT maintenance still gets to be IT.

      As of right now, it seems the world is incapable of working together for the benefit of humanity. However, I wouldn't say it's *impossible* for the world to work together. But I'll admit that it won't happen in comments.

      I still would like to hear counters to things I brought up, as I was trying to find middle ground on all of it. Minus the fact that we're giving too much power to the government, but that's where federal, state, and all of the checks and balances can still reside.

      I may be inexperienced in politics and economics, but not merely ignorant or stupid. Please keep this in mind. I think we'll be fine though. The comments have been rather cool-headed.

      Thanks for feedback!

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      My Esoteric 3 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Capitalism and Socialism are polar opposites, NachoLord, for two reasons 1) Capitalism is an economic construct while socialism is a social construct with an economic component and 2) Theoretical capitalism has no controls on the means of production and distribution while in socialism society, generally in the form of gov't, controls all means of production and distribution.

      What makes capitalism work so well (and is the seed of its destruction) is the inherent greed in humans for it provides incentive to be more innovative to make improve one's standard of living. Greed is the seed of destruction in theoretical capitalism because, sense there ARE no controls, it allows those who do a little bit better to exert power and influence over the rest in order to accelerate their accumulation of wealth. Therefore, free-market capitalism is no longer free without regulation to tamp down the more base of human instincts.

      Theoretical socialism, on the other hand, assumes people will be satisfied with the status quo that the government imposes on them. In a perfect world where greed doesn't exist, then socialism has a chance to work. With greed, socialism, like pure capitalism, devolves into some form of dictatorship.

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